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Why Coffee Can Reduce Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Coffee can reduce type 2 diabetes risk

When previous studies announced that drinking coffee could reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, java lovers cheered. The unanswered question, however, was why. What characteristic does coffee possess that leads to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes?

Coffee has compounds that reduce diabetes risk

When you’re huddled over a cup of steaming coffee on a cold winter’s day, you are getting more than a warm up and a jolt of caffeine. According to a group of scientists from various institutions in Wuhan, Hubei, the People’s Republic of China, you are also consuming compounds that inhibit an activity that has a role in causing type 2 diabetes.

Coffee extracts have three main active components: caffeine, caffeic acid, and chlorogenic acid (CGA). The investigators studied the effects of these three components along with dihydrocaffeic acid, which is a metabolite of CGA and caffeine, on a substance called human islet amyloid polypeptide (hlAPP).

What’s important about hlAPP? Previous research indicates that the misfolding of hlAPP can cause type 2 diabetes, and so scientists are interested in interfering with that process.

In this new study, the investigators tested the impact of the coffee components on hlAPP and found that caffeine, caffeic acid, and CGA all had an effect on hlAPP, but that only caffeic acid and CGA significantly suppressed the formation of hlAPP oligomers.

Type 2 diabetes and coffee

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Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic levels. In the United States, 25.8 million people, which equals 8.3 percent of the population, have diabetes. Approximately 95 percent of all diabetes cases are type 2.

An additional 79 million people have prediabetes, which means they are at risk for developing full-blown type 2 diabetes. People with diabetes are at high risk for a number of serious complications, including heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, amputations, nervous system disease (neuropathy), and gum disease.

To enjoy the benefits of a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, previous studies show that people need to drink four or more cups of coffee daily. At that level, the risk of diabetes is lowered by 50 percent. For more ardent coffee lovers, each additional cup of coffee lowers the risk by nearly 7 percent.

The authors of the new study from China have provided an answer to the question, “Why can coffee lower the risk of type 2 diabetes?” by identifying compounds in coffee that significantly inhibit the accumulation of a substance involved in the disease process. They concluded that “A beneficial effect may thus be expected for a regular coffee drinker.”

American Diabetes Association
Cheng B, Liu X, Gong H, Huang L, Chen H, Zhang X, Li C, Yang M, Ma B, Jiao L, Zheng L, Huang K. Coffee components inhibit amyloid formation of human islet amyloid polypeptide in vitro: possible link between coffee consumption and diabetes mellitus. J Agric Food Chem 2011; 59(24): 13147-55

Picture credit: PhotosPublicDomain



If this is true, how come I have been drinking coffee my whole life and I have full blown diabetis and my doctor told me to stay away from coffee, it raises my blood sugar considerably. so I limit myself to one cup a day.
Hi Barbara - caffeine might help lower our risk of diabetes - but there are many factors that lead to developing the disease. If it were so easy to just drink coffee it would be miraculous. It is one addition to an otherwise healthy diet and lifestyle that might help. Once you have diabetes caffeine can cause wide swings in blood sugar levels, which is why your doctor advised against it now.