Tea for two (diseases)

Tea gets a lot of researchers’ hearts racing with its growing list of health benefits. Now, it turns out that it could provide a simple and inexpensive way of preventing diabetes and its ensuing complications, including cataracts.

Researchers fed green and black tea to diabetic rats for three months and then monitored the chemical composition of the rats’ blood and eye lenses. At levels that would be equivalent to less than five cups of tea per day for a human, both teas significantly inhibited cataract formation relative to a control group which did not drink tea, they say. The researchers found that both types of tea decreased glucose levels, which in turn affects other biochemical pathways that accelerate diabetic complications such as cataracts.

“Most people, scientists included, believe that green tea has more health benefits than black tea,” says chemist Joe Vinson of the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania. In combination with Vinson’s earlier research showing that green tea and black tea inhibit equally atherosclerosis – a major risk factor for heart disease – his latest findings suggest that both drinks could play a part in curbing two of the most widespread maladies in the US today.

Details are published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.