Coffee Lovers May Ward Off Diabetes | Body and Soul

Posted: 06/14/2010 11:17 AM EDT

New studies show that there are more benefits to drinking coffee than the jolt of energy it provides. Research shows coffee may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital conducted one of the biggest, long-term studies on the subject. They found the more coffee people drank, the greater the protection against diabetes.

The study followed 41,934 men for 12 years and 84,276 women for 18 years. At the beginning of the study, the participants did not have type 2 diabetes. They were asked to answer questions about their coffee-drinking habits (regular and decaffeinated) every two to four years. Over the years, 1,333 new cases of type 2 diabetes were reported among the men and 4,085 among the women.

Men who reported drinking more than six cups of regular coffee a day cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes in half when compared to non-drinkers. Women who reported drinking that much cut their risk by nearly 30%. Decaffeinated coffee also showed benefits, but the results were weaker.

What’s Inside the Bean

Researchers haven’t identified what’s inside of coffee that wards off diabetes. But the Harvard study reported both regular and decaffeinated coffee contains loads of antioxidants like chlorogenic acid (one of the compounds that provide coffee’s flavor) and magnesium. These ingredients can improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin and may help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to the study.

Caffeine’s role in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes among coffee drinkers has been unclear. In fact, a recent study at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health suggests caffeine may not be a major player. Researchers followed more than 28,000 postmenopausal women for 11 years. They found that women who drank at least six cups of coffee, particularly decaffeinated, had a 33% lower risk of type 2 diabetes than non-drinkers.

The Drawbacks of Caffeine

Does the data from these studies mean you should you head for the nearest coffee shop if you are a non-drinker? Not necessarily. Researchers say that there is not a sufficient amount of data available to suggest that people who are not currently coffee drinkers should necessarily start. More research is needed to determine why and how the study results occurred and to determine recommendations going forward.

It is not suggested that people up their coffee intake to six or more cups per day. Just one 6-ounce cup of regular coffee contains 103 milligrams of caffeine, which has been shown to increase blood pressure in some individuals.

It’s also important to watch what else you’re putting in the cup. Adding calorie-laden sweeteners, fattening or carbohydrate-containing creamers to your coffee could be defeating the potentially beneficial effects of drinking the coffee itself.

 

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