Food is an amazing part of our world. It's full of such a wide variety of flavors and textures, and there is a whole world of food to explore. And there is another world to explore regarding food beyond simply its enjoyment — its ability to help the body cope and heal.

Tea has been linked to a wide variety of health benefits. Today I want to focus on one specific benefit, the possible benefit tea has on controlling blood sugar. Considering that there are more than 25 million people in America who have diabetes, any extra help that certain foods could offer are worth considering.

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has been releasing new research on tea. One of the group's chemists found that drinking regularly brewed tea helped increase insulin activity by more than 15 times in laboratory rats. This was found to be true with green, black, and oolong teas, and happened regardless of whether the tea was caffeinated or decaffeinated.

He found that in green and oolong teas, the catechin EGCG was largely responsible for this result. In black tea, the active ingredients were tannins and theaflavins, as well as EGCG.

In a pilot study conducted at Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging’s Lipid Metabolism Laboratory, eight volunteers with type II diabetes drank six cups of tea per day for eight weeks. At the end of the study, their blood sugar levels were lower by 15-20 percent! A longer, 24-week, randomized, double-blind study involving 40 men and women is following up on this study using both green and black teas.

While both of these new studies need further research, there is much to encourage us in the blood sugar-lowering benefits of tea.

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