The healthy tea that raises diabetes risk 20 percent

Green tea is the holy grail of health drinks…

It improves brain function. It speeds up your metabolism. It lowers your risk of certain cancers. It keeps your teeth healthy. And it even lowers your risk for type 2 diabetes… or does it?

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, doubt’s been thrown into the equation recently.

After years of being the diabetes-fighting beverage of choice, new research shows green tea may not protect you from type 2 diabetes after all.

In fact, it may even increase your risk…

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Green tea grows your diabetes risk

A Chinese study published in International Journal of Epidemiology found that people who drink green tea have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

The study included 119,373 participants from the Shanghai Women’s Health Study and Shanghai Men’s Health Study. None of them had diabetes when the study started. Researchers followed up with study participants several times: within five years, within five to ten years, and after 10 years.

Those who drank green tea were about 20 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes during the study period than those who didn’t. The more green tea they drank and the longer they’d been drinking it, the higher the risk. For some heavy drinkers, the risk rose to 29 percent.

The connection held true for men and women. And it didn’t matter whether they were obese or smoked. Green tea paved the way for type 2 diabetes regardless.

Read: The ‘diabetes’ spice that beat metformin

How is this possible?

Researchers think it’s probably because of pesticides.

Even though green tea is packed full of healthy antioxidants, it’s also filled with pesticides. There have been other studies where tea’s been tied to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers in those studies identified pesticides as the most likely culprit. And researchers from this study think the same is probably true.

Previous research does show, after all, that pesticide exposure increases type 2 diabetes risk. So, it’s a sound theory.

Should you stop drinking green tea?

If you’re someone who enjoys a cup of green tea daily, don’t let this study derail you from your healthy habit.

There’s still an abundance of evidence that green tea helps rather than harms your health. So rather than ditching green tea for another beverage, make sure the green tea you drink isn’t doused in pesticides.

How do you do that?

Go organic, of course!

Always buy certified organic, non-GMO tea to make sure what you’re putting in your body is good for you. There are other ways you can make your daily cup of tea healthier too, like:

  • Avoiding add-ons like sugar and cream. Who needs the extra calories and blood sugar spike?
  • Skipping teas with any additives. Ingredients like natural flavors, soy lecithin, cornstarch, corn syrup are often GMO. And there’s no reason these things need to be in our tea anyhow.
  • Making tea with filtered water. Depending on where you live, your tap water could contain ingredients that contribute to type 2 diabetes and other health issues too.
  • Choosing loose leaf tea. A lot of tea bags are made with plastics or treated with chemicals. So, loose leaf tea is your safest option unless you’re 100 percent positive the brand your buying invests in healthy bags.

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  1. Green tea and diabetes — MedicalXpress.
  2. Green tea consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes in Chinese adults: the Shanghai Women’s Health Study and the Shanghai Men’s Health StudyInternational Journal of Epidemiology
  3. 10 Proven Benefits of Green Tea — Healthline
  4. Are You Drinking Toxic Tea? Here’s How To Avoid Pesticides & Heavy Metals — MindBodyGreen
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and