Black tea might be linked with a lower risk of diabetes, according to a new study in the journal BMJ Open.
Researchers from Data Mining International in Switzerland found that rates of diabetes are lower in countries with high black tea-drinking rates.
It may be too early to say that black tea could actually protect against diabetes but "the findings are consistent with previous studies that have also suggested a link," study researcher Dr. Ariel Beresniak, M.D., Ph.D., told WebMD.
The New York Daily News explained some of the caveats of the new study:
For instance, the quality and consistency of record keeping among the 50 countries analyzed may vary, while results at the population level may not be true at the individual level, researchers from Switzerland, France and England point out.
The study included data on black tea consumption and disease rates from 50 countries that were in the World Health Survey in 2009. The researchers looked at diseases including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease and infectious disease.
Researchers found that in countries with the highest rates of people drinking black tea -- like Ireland, where each person consumes an average of 4.4 pounds of the stuff each year, as well as the United Kingdom and Turkey -- there were also the lowest levels of diabetes, HealthDay reported.
Meanwhile, the countries that drank the least black tea in the study included Mexico, Morocco, Brazil, China and South Korea, the New York Daily News reported.
However, researchers did not find a link between other diseases and black tea consumption, according to HealthDay.
This is not the first time tea-drinking has been linked with health benefits. Click through the slideshow for other ways it could benefit our bodies:
Green tea boosts the number of "regulatory T cells" in the body, which are important for the immune system, according to research from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. "When fully understood, this could provide an easy and safe way to help control autoimmune problems and address various diseases," study researcher Emily Ho, an associate professor at the university, said in a statement. The research was published in the journal Immunology Letters. The researchers specifically focused on the green tea compound EGCG, which is a kind of polyphenol. They said that the compound may work via epigenetics -- influencing expression of genes -- rather than "changing the underlying DNA codes," Ho said in the statement.
If you're thirsty, tea can do the trick for hydration -- even though it contains caffeine, according to a 2006 review in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. "Studies on caffeine have found very high doses dehydrate and everyone assumes that caffeine-containing beverages dehydrate. But even if you had a really, really strong cup of tea or coffee, which is quite hard to make, you would still have a net gain of fluid," study researcher Carrie Ruxton, of Kings College London, told BBC News. The researchers wrote in the review: It is a common perception is that caffeine-containing drinks cause a net loss in fluid and may lead to dehydration. Again, many of the studies investigating this have used high doses of caffeine, often as a bolus. When caffeine is given in this way, there is indeed evidence of a diuretic effect but this is not relevant to normal use of caffeine-containing beverages where the caffeine would be consumed with 200-250 ml of fluid.
The same European Journal of Clinical Nutrition review showed that drinking three or more cups of tea per day is linked with a lower risk of coronary heart disease, potentially because of the amount of antioxidants found in tea. The University of Maryland Medical Center also reported that research has shown that green tea and black tea have atherosclerosis-preventing effects, although the FDA has yet to allow teamakers to claim that green tea can affect heart disease risk.
Scottish researchers found that applying a compound in green tea shrinks tumors in lab tests. The compound is a flavanoid, called epigallocatechin gallate. "When we used our method, the green tea extract reduced the size of many of the tumors every day, in some cases removing them altogether," study researcher Dr. Christine Dufes, senior lecturer at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, said in a statement. "By contrast, the extract had no effect at all when it was delivered by other means, as every one of these tumours continued to grow."
Who knew that green tea and gold could be so powerful against cancer? University of Missouri researchers found that the two worked in tandem to fight prostate cancer tumor cells. Green tea compounds were the delivery mechanism, bringing the radioactive gold nanoparticles to the tumors. The gold was then able to kill the cancer cells, ABC News reported. The research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that this method was able to reduce tumor size by 80 percent in mice, HuffPost UK reported.
Drinking green tea could help you function better -- meaning you don't need help doing basic activities like bathing or dressing -- as you get older, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The research, which included 14,000 adults ages 65 and older over a three-year period, showed that the ones who drank the most green tea had the best functioning in old age compared with those who drank the least. "Green tea consumption is significantly associated with a lower risk of incident functional disability, even after adjustment for possible confounding factors," researchers concluded in the study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Drinking black tea could slightly decrease blood pressure, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Reuters reported that participants drank either black tea, or a non-tea beverage that had similar caffeine levels and taste, for six months, thrice daily. The researchers found that those assigned to drink the black tea had a slight decrease in blood pressure, though not enough to bring someone with hypertension back into a safe zone, Reuters reported. "Those are small changes and are nothing like what you would see if you took a blood pressure lowering medication," Dr. Joseph Vita, of the Boston University School of Medicine (who was not involved in the study), told Reuters.
Drinking green tea could help you reach your weight loss goals, according to a study in the Journal of Nutrition. Researchers found that drinking five cups a day is linked with weight loss, particularly in decreasing belly fat, Health.com reported.
Learn how tea can help you lose weight, fight disease and beautify your feet!