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Coffee Compound May Help Delay Diabetes Onset

Coffee and diabetes

More good news for coffee drinkers and diabetes here.


I am always happy when a new study comes out that supports one of my favorite habits – drinking coffee. Even in the heat of summer, I love my two cups each morning. There have been many recent studies to show that drinking coffee does have several health benefits from potential weight loss to providing antioxidants to protect from certain cancers.

Past studies have also shown that coffee drinkers have a reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Teams thought it may be the caffeine present in the beans, but new research has found another compound that may have anti-diabetic properties.

The publishers of the new study in the Journal of Natural Products have found that cafestol may improve cell function and insulin sensitivity – at least in lab mice. Cafestol may work on cells within the pancreas to increase secretion of insulin when exposed to glucose, resulting in lowered blood sugar levels. In addition, cafestol may help muscle cells increase intake of glucose just as effectively as a commonly prescribed anti-diabetic drug – but without the risk of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.

The cafestol content of a standard cup of coffee varies depending on brew mechanism but is highest in unfiltered preparation methods such as Scandinavian‐type boiled coffee and Turkish coffee. Unfortunately, it appears that coffee, the way most of us drink it (drip-filtered) does not contain much cafestol.

As with most things, moderation is probably best with coffee. Past studies have indicated that cafestol may also have cholesterol raising properties, although this has not been proven among all population groups.

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From a plant-based diet standpoint, coffee is a friendly food as it is a bean. But the way in which some coffee beans are grown and processed may not always line up with a vegan philosophy, per UrbanVegan.net.

They list three important things to look for when selecting cruelty-free and sustainable coffee:
• Choose shade-grown over sun-grown. Sun-grown coffee leads to deforestation and a loss of biodiversity. Sun-grown coffee also requires more chemicals, such as fertilizers and fungicides.
• Choose USDA Organic Coffee versus a conventional product for less environmental contamination.
• When you are looking at coffee labels, look for those that bear the Rainforest Alliance seal which state that ingredients follow environmental, social and economic guidelines designed to conserve wildlife and protect workers. And guess what – these are not hard to find! UrbanVegan states that McDonald’s USA and Canada, Caribou coffee, and Green Mountain coffee (among others) are taking steps to source sustainably produced coffee beans from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms!

Journal Reference:
Fredrik Brustad Mellbye, Søren Gregersen et al. Cafestol, a Bioactive Substance in Coffee, Has Antidiabetic Properties in KKAy Mice. Journal of Natural Products, 2017; 80 (8): 2353 DOI: 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.7b00395

Additional Research:
Cafestol extraction yield from different coffee brew mechanisms. Food Research International. Volume 49, Issue 1, November 2012, Pages 27-31

Coffee and its consumption: benefits and risks. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 51 (4)(2011), pp. 363-373


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons