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Can Drinking Black Tea Lower Your Risk of Diabetes?

Countries that consume the most black tea have fewer cases of type 2 diabetes, says a new study. So what does that mean for you?

Before you read the rest of this story, go ahead and throw on a tea kettle and dig out some black tea. Like its lighter-colored green tea friend, black tea is filled with healthy antioxidants—and could possibly reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Yes, a brand new study published in the journal BMJ Open found that countries with a high black tea consumption also had the lowest rates of type 2 diabetes. Ireland, the U.K. and Turkey topped the list (on average, each person drinks around 4.5 lbs of black tea per year), with the U.S. trailing far behind.

While this is great news for tea loving countries, the authors note that the study doesn’t prove that drinking black tea reduces your risk of diabetes. It does, however, add to growing evidence of the drink's many benefits.

Not convinced yet? Here are some other recent findings about black tea:

  • It's high in antioxidants. Black tea is made from the same leaf as green tea, which contains simple flavonoids known to reduce inflammation. Fermenting the leaf makes it darker and creates more complex flavonoids, which also work as antioxidants.
  • It may lower blood sugar by blocking the enzyme that turns starch into glucose. This is similar to some drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes. 
  • It slows down absorption of sugar by the small intestine, according to a 2008 study in the Journal of Food Biochemistry.

So if you’re thinking of drinking more tea? Great idea, but keep in mind that black tea can contain up to 61 mg of caffeine per cup. This is more than green tea, but less than some coffee—so you can probably have several cups and still stay under the recommended 400 mg limit.

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