Drinking at least three cups of tea a day is linked with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a new Dutch study published this month.
This was a prospective cohort study involving 40,111 people who were followed up for a period of 10 years. Tea (and coffee) intake was determined by use of a food frequency questionnaire. The questionnaire was validated by checking its results against 12 months worth of 24 hour recalls of food and drink intake in 121 participants before the start of the study.
Commenting on the research, Dr Carrie Ruxton from the Tea Advisory Panel notes: “This study reveals a strong inverse association between tea consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes. Drinking at least three cups of tea a day was linked with a 42% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Drinking more than 3 cups of tea did not substantially reduce this risk any further. The study did not distinguish between black and green tea, but 95 per cent of tea drunk in the Netherlands is black tea, i.e. regular tea.
“The results remained the same even when the researchers accounted for other factors which might have influenced diabetes risk, such as body mass index, blood pressure, caffeine, dietary magnesium and potassium. This suggests that ingredients other than caffeine, magnesium and potassium (all found in tea) could be causing the beneficial effect. Likely candidates are the flavonoid antioxidants found in tea which are known to protect body cells from damage.”
Dr Ruxton adds: “This study is not the first to look at the relationship between black tea and diabetes. Research published last year found that regular consumption of black tea was linked to a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes . This was a large, prospective study, involving 36,908 Chinese men and women, aged 45 to 74 (mean age 54.8) years, living in Singapore. Those who drank more than one or more cups of black tea each day were 14% less likely to develop diabetes. These benefits of black tea were thought to be due to improved glucose metabolism, increased anti-inflammatory activity and increased insulin activity.
“This Dutch paper expands our knowledge of the association between black tea and type 2 diabetes. In the UK, there are currently over 2.3 million people with diabetes, more than half a million people have diabetes and don’t know it, and the incidence of the condition is increasing. If black tea proves to be beneficial in helping to lower diabetes risk, this is good news for the large number of people in the UK who drink black tea.”
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