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A Natural Way to Manage Blood Sugar Levels?

Antioxidants in black tea called polysaccharides show potential as a natural way for diabetics to manage blood sugar levels, according to a new study published online in the June 2009 issue of the Journal of Food Science.

For the study, researchers from Tianjin University in China isolated three polysaccharide-rich fractions (GTPS, OTPS, and BTPS) from green, black, and oolong tea.

The researchers then measured the chemical characteristics, glucose inhibiting effects and antioxidant properties of the polysaccharides from each type of tea.

They found that black tea inhibited the spike in blood sugar levels seen after a meal better than green or oolong tea and it also had the strongest antioxidant properties.

The researchers determined that black tea helps manage blood glucose levels by inhibiting an enzyme that turns starch into glucose called alpha-glucosidase. A couple of diabetes drugs currently on the market work in the same way.

Since this study used extracts from black tea, it is not yet clear if simply drinking black tea will provide the same benefits. The researchers plan to conduct further studies aimed at determining this.

These findings show great promise for the use of black tea by diabetics as a natural means of controlling blood glucose levels.

With 24 million people in the US (8% of the population) currently diagnosed with diabetes, finding natural ways for diabetics to manage blood glucose levels and remain healthy is becoming ever more critical.

While much of the science behind tea's benefits has revolved around green tea, the science behind black teas benefits is building rapidly.

Earlier studies have shown that black tea may lower cholesterol levels, risk of stroke and risk of coronary heart disease.

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