There is good news for tea drinkers. It can prevent blood sugar concerns. But, you must be more than a casual sipper to reap the full benefits. A study found that people who drank one to three cups of tea a day were four percent less likely to develop blood sugar problems. But, people who drank four or more cups of tea cut their risk by 17 percent. The tea types people drank were black tea, green tea and oolong.
People have been quick to point out that the study has limitations. The study was extensive. It was a systematic review of 19 studies from eight countries with over a million participants. But, it has yet to be peer-reviewed. The study participants self-reported the data, so it’s not as reliable or controlled as a clinical trial. And they didn’t control for factors like if people used milk or sugar. Studies have gone back and forth on whether dairy helps or hurts blood sugar health.
The researchers of the study are still optimistic. Lead author Xiaying Li from Wuhan Univ. of Science and Technology said, “Our results are exciting because they suggest that people can do something as simple as drinking four cups of tea a day to potentially lessen their risk of developing [blood sugar concerns].” Prof. Li agrees that more research is needed but defends their findings. “While more research needs to be done to determine the exact dosage and mechanisms behind these observations, our findings suggest that drinking tea is beneficial.”
Tea contains many antioxidants, anticarcinogens and anti-inflammatory compounds. Many studies have shown that tea benefits health. But this is the first to quantify how it can aid blood sugar.
A study from the UK, published in August, surveyed 498,000 people. Those that drank at least two cups of tea a day lowered their risk of death by 9 to 13 percent compared to non-tea drinkers. They also had a lower risk of heart disease or stroke. People in the UK almost universally add milk to their tea, but few participants in the study added sugar.
While the results are promising, and there is no harm in drinking more tea, Naveed Sattar, a professor of metabolic medicine at the Univ. of Glasgow, made an excellent point. “It could be that people who drink more tea avoid or less often drink more harmful sugary drinks or equivalent, or that they have other health behaviors that lead them to have lower risks of [blood sugar concerns].”
Reducing sugary drinking while still getting plenty of fluids is essential for healthy blood sugar. So, enjoying a lot of tea may benefit your blood sugar. But, if you’re still drinking soda along with it, don’t expect results. And, even if you cut out the sugar-filled drinks and chug tea, the jury is out on the best choice to make.