Green tea, or camellia sinensi, is a rich source of flavonols, compounds that seem to benefit cardiovascular health. Flavonols are widely present not only in green tea, but also in cocoa, red wine and some fruits. The most abundant and most active flavonol in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate, and it likely has the greatest potentially beneficial effects. Among these benefits is enhanced control of blood sugar levels through improvement of insulin utilization by the body. Other advantages include decreased cholesterol absorption from the intestines and in lowering blood pressure levels.
A recent study evaluated the published information on the effects of green tea and its extract on blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity in diabetics. This study identified 17 trials encompassing a total of 1,133 subjects. The researchers found that green tea consumption significantly reduced blood sugar levels, thus contributing to better management of the diabetic state.
Since diabetes is quite common and is a serious threat to health, green tea could play a role in both prevention and management of this disorder. In addition to changes in life style (proper diet, weight reduction and exercise), regular consumption green tea might be a useful adjunct.
So how much green tea should one consume to favorably influence blood sugar levels? Another large study of diabetics suggested that individuals who drank about 4 cups per day had a 20% lower risk of type 2 (adult acquired) diabetes compared with those who drank less or none.
But since it’s a matter of taste, green tea may not be for everyone. If you like this product, however, especially if you are diabetic or at risk for later development of this disease, consider regular consumption of green tea—unsweetened of course!