New research suggests drinking green tea with starchy food may help lower blood sugar spikes that cause problems for people with diabetes — a finding that could potentially lead to new diet strategies for people seeking to manage glucose safely.
Penn State food scientists found mice fed an antioxidant in green tea — known as EGCG (short for epigallocatechin-3-gallate) — and corn starch had a significant reduction in increase in their blood sugar levels compared to those not fed the compound.
"The spike in blood glucose level is about 50 percent lower than the increase in the blood glucose level of mice that were not fed EGCG," said Joshua Lambert, assistant professor of food science in agricultural sciences.
The dose of EGCG fed to the mice was equivalent to about one and a half cups of sugarless green tea. The findings suggest green tea could help people control the typical blood sugar spikes brought on when they eat starchy foods, like bread, potatoes and pasta.
"If what you are eating with your tea has starch in it then you might see that beneficial effect," said Lambert, whose findings were published online in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. "So, for example, if you have green tea with your bagel for breakfast, it may reduce the spike in blood glucose levels that you would normally get from that food."
He added that researcher will now test the compound on people.
"The relatively low effective dose of EGCG makes a compelling case for studies in human subjects," said the researchers, whose work was funded by the National Institutes of Health.