Many Brits enjoy a hot cup of tea first thing in the morning, or after a stressful day at work – but did you know the popular brew could slash your risk of type two diabetes?
In the UK, more than 4.9 million people have diabetes, with nine in 10 cases type two.
Chinese researchers observed more than one million people and found that drinking tea could cut the risk of the condition by almost one fifth.
Scientists carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of 19 cohort studies to explore the impact of tea-drinking in eight countries, with green, black and Oolong tea varieties examined.
The findings, which were presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes annual meeting, revealed that four cups of tea a day was linked to a 17 percent lower risk of developing type two diabetes over a decade.
These results were regardless of the type of tea consumed.
The popular Chinese tea Oolong is made from the same plant used to make black and green tea.
Black tea is the most common type of brew drunk in the UK and is oxidised until it turns black.
Green tea is not oxidised much, while Oolong tea is partially oxidised.
The research did not explore the impact from adding milk to tea, but previous studies have suggested that moderate amounts dairy can protect against diabetes.
Health experts have supported the consumption of tea as it contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic compounds, all of which have health benefits.
The observational study is unable to confirm that tea can lower your risk of diabetes, but the size of the study has added confidence to this matter.
Lead author Xiaying Li from Wuhan University of Science and Technology, said: “Our results are exciting because they suggest that people can do something as simple as drinking four cups of tea a day to potentially lessen their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.”
Researchers conducted a systematic review of all cohort studies investigating tea drinking and the risk of type two diabetes in adults up to September 2021.
The data collected involved 1,076,311 participants from eight countries.
They found that participants who drank between one and three cups a day reduced their risk of diabetes by four percent.
But those who drank at least four cups a day had a lowered risk of 17 percent.
These findings were regardless of tea variety, gender, or where they lived, suggesting it could be linked to the amount of tea consumed.
Li said: “While more research needs to be done to determine the exact dosage and mechanisms behind these observations, our findings suggest that drinking tea is beneficial in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, but only at high doses (at least 4 cups a day).”
She added: “It is possible that particular components in tea, such as polyphenols, may reduce blood glucose levels, but a sufficient amount of these bioactive compounds may be needed to be effective.”
Other experts have suggested that the health advantages of consuming tea occur because people drink it instead of unhealthier options.
Prof Naveed Sattar, Professor of Metabolic Medicine, University of Glasgow, said: “Given the nature of this study, it cannot prove tea prevents diabetes per se. Rather it could be that people who drink more tea avoid or less often drink more harmful sugary drinks or equivalent or that they have other health behaviours that leads them to have lower risks of type 2 diabetes.
“There is no good trial evidence whatsoever that the chemicals in tea prevent diabetes, so I suspect its more about tea being healthier (less calorific) than many alternative drinks or tea drinkers leading healthier lives more generally.”