Drinking Tea for Diabetes: Green Tea or Black Tea?

When it comes to drinking tea for diabetes, Steinbaum says benefits are tied to all teas, but that green tea is the clear winner. "For one, when you drink green tea for diabetes, you will get a higher level of polyphenols than you would get in black,” she explains. It’s the polyphenols in fruits and vegetables that give them their bright colors. So, having more color means that green tea is richer in polyphenols. “Of the black teas, the more orange the color, the higher the polyphenols,” she adds.


"Green tea is good for people with diabetes because it helps the metabolic system function better."
Suzanne Steinbaum, DO

Besides its color, green tea also contains higher polyphenol levels because it's prepared from unfermented leaves, "so it is really pure,” Steinbaum says. Black tea, on the other hand, is made from leaves that are fully fermented, which robs it of some nutrients. “Plus, some black tea varieties can have two to three times more caffeine than green, which isn’t good in excess,” she says.

Polyphenols: Beyond Drinking Tea for Diabetes

The benefits of tea are clear. But besides tea, a number of foods high in polyphenols also can help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes. “The fruits highest in polyphenols areberries, grapes, apples, and pomegranates — because of their rich color,” Steinbaum says. Broccoli, onions, garlic, tomatoes, eggplant, and spinach are also good sources, as are cranberries, blood oranges, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, lemons, limes, and kiwis. “We know red wine contains resveratrol, which is a polyphenol — the highest concentration is in Bordeaux,” Steinbaum says.

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Cocoa is also a good source — a reason to eat a piece of dark chocolate now and then. “And for those following a vegetarian diet, there are also a number of foods high in polyphenols that also provide protein, such as red beans, black beans, pinto beans, pistachios, walnuts, chickpeas, and all the nut butters,” she says.


Overall, in addition to drinking tea for diabetes, eating a diet that’s good for your blood sugar isn’t complicated. “Type 2 diabetes tends to be driven by dietary lifestyle choices," Steinbaum says. "When we talk about prevention, having a diet filled with polyphenols will help the body better metabolize sugar." Hands down, eating foods rich in polyphenols — such as garlic and brightly colored fruits and vegetables — and drinking tea for diabetes, especially green tea, are great ideas for anyone trying to manage or prevent diabetes.

“When you say, ‘What is the best diet for diabetes?,’ people are hoping for this amazing plan," Steinbaum says. "But it really comes down to eating colorful fruits and veggies, nuts, drinking green tea, eating fish with omega-3 fatty acids, and getting a little cocoa and red wine — and you’re done."