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The 4 Best Teas for People With Diabetes
From green tea to chamomile, discover the best teas to help you manage your blood sugar, reduce stress, and more.

If you have diabetes, your healthcare team has probably told you what kinds of beverages to skip, like soda, juice, and sugary sports drinks.

But avoiding these doesn’t mean you have to miss out on flavor — there are plenty of drinks you can enjoy that bring big taste but won’t spike your blood sugar. Take, for example, unsweetened hot or cold tea.

“Tea is a great choice for individuals with diabetes — it can be a carb-free way to provide hydration and antioxidants,” says Lori Zanini, RD, CDCES, who is based in Dana Point, California, and is the creator of the 6-Week Solution, a program for eating with diabetes.

Here, discover the teas that may offer real perks for people with diabetes or individuals looking to help prevent the disease.
1. Green Tea May Help You Lose Weight
In a midday slump? 

Consider steeping a cup of green tea, which contains 28 milligrams of caffeine, according to the Mayo Clinic, and may help fend off diabetes.

A review of studies suggested that green tea and green tea extract may help lower blood glucose levels and may play a role in helping prevent type 2 diabetes and obesity.

A study mentioned in the review found that people who drank green tea habitually for more than 10 years had lower body fat and a smaller waist circumference than those who did not.

And obesity can raise a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by at least sixfold, according to a study published in April 2020 in the journal Diabetologia.

One of the reasons green tea may play a role preventing diabetes? It contains a potent compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). “EGCG has been found to increase the uptake of glucose into muscle cells,” says Palinski-Wade. According to a review published in February 2019 in the International Journal of Molecular Science, this process of EGCG stimulating glucose to enter muscle cells may also be useful to treat obesity.

Per the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), one cup of green tea has 0 carbohydrates, 0 grams (g) of sugar or fat, and a mere 2.4 calories, making it an all-around healthy choice.
2. Black Tea May Help Reduce Insulin Resistance
Black tea comes from the same plant as green tea, so as with green tea, you’ll reap diabetes-friendly benefits. Though it’s the same plant, “different processing methods are used” to create it, explains Stefanski.

A review published in June 2019 in the journal Antioxidants notes that some epidemiological studies show that drinking black, green, or oolong tea may reduce the risk of developing diabetes or diabetes complications. Plus, the researchers suggest tea (including black) may work in the body in part by improving insulin resistance, playing an insulin-like role, as well as alleviating the inflammatory response.

Also, black tea may work to help people with diabetes in other ways. “Animal studies on black tea have found it may reduce carbohydrate absorption and therefore improve blood glucose control; however, more research is needed on humans,” explains Palinski-Wade. A review published in December 2016 in the journal Molecules found that black tea lowered body weight in animals.

Other research, published in January 2017 in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that drinking black tea after consuming sugar helped control blood glucose. The small study looked at people with prediabetes as well as people without diabetes.

More positive news for black tea drinkers: Another review found that tea drinkers, including those who drink black tea, had a lower prevalence of incidence of type 2 diabetes.
3. Chamomile Tea May Make You Sleepy
A sleepless night is the last thing that someone with diabetes needs. According to the CDC, just one single night of poor sleep could can your body to produce insulin less effectively, potentially raising your blood sugar levels.

The good news? Drinking herbal chamomile tea, which is caffeine free, may support your slumber. A study published in October 2015 in JAN found that when women with poor sleep (who had recently given birth) drank chamomile tea for two weeks, they had fewer sleep quality problems and symptoms of depression compared with the control group who didn’t drink the tea.

Of course, those women didn’t have diabetes. But that doesn’t mean chamomile tea doesn’t offer perks for these individuals. “Diabetes is considered an inflammatory state, and along with proper food intake, good quality sleep is important in reducing inflammation,” says Stefanski.

There’s more, Palinski-Wade says: “Chamomile tea has also been associated with improved insulin sensitivity and glucose management and may help to reduce oxidative stress in the body. A study published in December 2018 in Trends in General Practice found that when study participants with type 2 diabetes consumed chamomile tea three times a day (after each meal) for eight weeks, researchers saw benefits in both insulin resistance and inflammatory markers.

Furthermore, past animal research shows that daily chamomile tea consumption may help slow down or prevent the progress of complications that can come along with diabetes, though more studies in humans are needed.
4. Ginger Tea Lowered Fasting Blood Glucose in Studies
Yes, a cup of ginger tea may come with a zing, but it might be worth sipping this spicy drink, especially if you have diabetes.

For starters, a past review suggests that ginger root supplementation — technically a more potent form than tea — lowered fasting blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes, as well as A1C.

What’s more, a small study published in February 2015 in the Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine observed that people with diabetes (who weren’t on insulin) who took ginger supplementation for three months improved their glycemic control, and results were significant between the ginger group and the control group.

Ginger may affect glycemic control in the body by inhibiting enzymes that are involved in the carbohydrate metabolism process as well as increased insulin sensitivity, a separate review found. 

As a result, the researchers note, there’s more of an uptake of glucose into the peripheral adipose and skeletal muscle tissue.
A Final Word on Preparing and Drinking Tea if You Have Diabetes
Whatever tea you choose, just remember these guidelines. “If you have diabetes it’s important to keep the beverage sugar-free, stick to mainstream green, herbal, or black teas, and monitor when you should cut off caffeine intake to help support your best sleep,” advises Stefanski. 

Here’s to enjoying a cozy cup of tea — for your health!
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