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Green Tea Extract Benefits for Diabetes: Studies Show Positive Impact on Blood Sugar

Image: Green Tea Extract Benefits for Diabetes: Studies Show Positive Impact on Blood Sugar
Green tea leaf on white background. (Sommai Sommai/Dreamstime.com)

By Alana Marie Burke   |   Sunday, 14 Dec 2014 05:36 PM

Studies have shown that a dietary supplement of green tea extract can benefit people with diabetes. This is because the antioxidants in green tea may have a positive impact on regulating blood sugar and promote weight loss.

Obesity and type 2 diabetes are a global health concern and in many cases, the two go hand in hand. According to a study in the Diabetes & Metabolism Journal, although prescription medications remain the "mainstay treatment of diabetes" researchers are interested in "remedies using plants" that include Camellia sinesis, commonly known as green tea. 

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Unlike black tea, green tea is relatively unprocessed and is twice as rich in antioxidants than vitamin C. Green tea contains a powerful antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate, which has been shown to have a variety of positive impacts on heart health, cognition and on glucose metabolism and obesity, which is particularly important for diabetics.

According to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine,
 the EGCG in green tea may help diabetics by "mimicking the actions of insulin and inhibiting the liver’s production of glucose, thus lowering blood sugar." 

The United States Department of Agriculture has weighed in on the benefits of drinking black, green and oolong tea. According to the USDA, brewed tea caused increased insulin activity by more than 15 times in laboratory rats. In black tea, the important ingredients were the tannins and theaflavins. When green and oolong teas were examined, it was the antioxidant EGCG that was "largely responsible for the results" of improved blood sugar. 

As green tea extracts are very strong infusions of Camellia sinesis, they contain a higher concentration of EGCG than a cup of brewed tea. However, green tea extracts are not all standardized in terms of quality. The USDA reported on a study by Agricultural Research that showed that in some green tea extracts "the compound catechin had oxidized during manufacturing and storage for many of the green tea supplement samples studied. They also found some additives in the supplements that were not listed on the labels." 

Green tea and green tea extracts do contain caffeine, which can have adverse side effects for some people including sleeplessness, irregular heartbeat and anxiety. WebMD advises that those with diabetes should "use caffeine with caution." Therefore, before supplementing with a green tea extract, diabetics should consult with their physicians, as there may be contraindications. 

This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.

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