(NaturalNews) While new research suggests that beverages containing high fructose corn syrup may increase a person's risk of contracting diabetes, the same study has also found evidence that a chemical in tea vastly counterbalances the cell-damaging effect of the sweetener.
Researchers discovered that beverages made with high fructose corn syrup contain high levels of reactive carbonyls, a free radical linked to tissue damage, the development of diabetes, and the occurrence of diabetes complications. When they added a chemical naturally occurring in tea to the beverages, however, the levels of reactive carbonyls drastically decreased.
The compound in question is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which was found to decrease reactive carbonyls in a dose-dependent manner -- meaning that the more EGCG added, the lower the levels of reactive carbonyls in the final beverage.
The researchers also discovered that tea beverages sweetened with high fructose corn syrup contained lower levels of reactive carbonyls than other beverages that used the same sweetener, suggesting that EGCG does not need to be chemically isolated to produce a reactive carbonyl-reducing effect.
Among beverages containing high fructose corn syrup, the highest levels of reactive carbonyls were found in carbonated beverages. Non-carbonated fruit juices contained only one third the reactive carbonyls, while non-carbonated tea beverages contained one sixth.
Because the test was conducted in a laboratory setting, it is not known if tea has a similar effect in the body, or if it only reduces the concentration of free radicals when mixed with another beverage.
As new purported health benefits to teas, and green tea in particular, have emerged, sales of green tea have surged in the United States, increasing by more than 35 percent over a five-year period. Sales increased from $119 million in 2001 to $160 million in 2006.
Tea has been consumed for more than 5,000 years in India and East Asia, and has traditionally been used for a variety of medicinal purposes.