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Green Tea and Lower Blood Sugar

clear glass mug of Green Tea leavesOver the past few decades, lab research has linked green tea and its active compounds to many health benefits, including reducing the risk of cancer and type 2 diabetes. An animal study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research now suggests that a compound found in green tea may reduce the spike in blood sugar that occurs after eating many starchy foods.

The finding may provide clues as to lowering high blood sugar, also known as hyperglycemia, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. And having type 2 diabetes increases the risk several types of cancers.

Study researchers placed mice on a corn starch diet. Some of the mice were then fed epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant abundant in green tea. In mice consuming EGCG, the blood sugar spike that typically occurs after eating was reduced about 50 percent lower compared to mice that did not consume the antioxidant.

But when the mice were fed glucose or maltose, sugars broken down from starch, EGCG had little effect on the rise in blood sugar. The authors say that an explanation for this probably stems from how the body converts and breaks down starch into sugars for energy. EGCG may be specifically interfering with that breakdown process, preventing starch from being turned into the sugar that eventually enters our bloodstream to cause blood sugar spikes.

Source: Forester, S. C., Gu, Y. and Lambert, J. D. (2012), Inhibition of starch digestion by the green tea polyphenol, (−)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate. Mol. Nutr. Food Res., 56: 1647–1654. 

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