Coffee & diabetes prevention

Coffee Could Help Keep Diabetes Away
06.26.06, 12:00 AM ET

MONDAY, June 26 (HealthDay News) — Drinking lots of coffee cut women’s risk of developing diabetes in an 11-year study, researchers report. But it was the antioxidants, not caffeine, in the brew that probably did the trick.

In fact, diabetes risk was reduced most in participants who preferred decaffeinated coffee, the researchers said.

This article reports on a study by Mark A. Pereira, et al., at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study was based on data on risk factors for diabetes & food/beverage consumption gathered from ~29,000 older women.

Adjusting for those risk factors, the researchers found that women who drank more than six cups a day of any type of coffee were 22 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, the kind that occurs in adult life, compared to those who avoided coffee.

But diabetes risk dropped even more — by 33 percent — for those who drank more than six cups a day of decaf, the study authors found.

Seeing that decaf had more benefit than regular coffee, the researchers don’t think it’s the caffeine that does the trick. The coffee bean, it seems, is a very complex little bean, & has a lot of powerful antioxidants like those found in berries or the grapes used in red wine. It could be that the antioxidants in the coffee bean help to protect the beta cells in the pancreas, which produce insulin, from oxidant damage. Of course there are a lot of other areas on the body that benefit from antioxidant activity too, which are probably a factor in diabetes risk.

Previous studies had also reported on coffee’s protective effects, including one in the Netherlands in 2002 & later studies from the Harvard School of Public Health. Rob van Dam at Harvard, who was part of the study in the Netherlands, points at chlorogenic acid, a component of coffee which seemingly lowers blood-sugar levels. Chlorogenic acid is also found in red wine & chocolate.

But naturally, more studies need to be done.

I don’t drink as much coffee as I used to, myself. In the past few years, most of my coffee consumption has been in the form of lattés at cafés that I went to write at on weekends. But since I changed my diet in late December, I’ve not been drinking many lattés because of the blood sugar boosters in them. When I get a little further along with my fat loss & overall increase in health, I’ll treat myself to lattés again now & then; but in the meantime I’ve been drinking tea. Green teas are supposed to also have a lot of good antioxidant effects. (Though I’ve been drinking black teas like my favorite, Earl Grey, too.)

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