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New Study Links Coffee to Lower Diabetes Risk

Worried over how your coffee habits may impact your health? This study might quell your concerns.
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Concerned about your diabetes risk? You may want to fill up the coffee pot. A study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition has revealed that drinking coffee may be linked with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

The research, slated for print publication in May 2023, examined the effects of drinking coffee on two large populations totaling over 150,000 people. It focused on the relationship between markers of inflammation and coffee consumption, concluding that the inflammation-lowering effects of the beverage could be protective against type 2 diabetes. One additional cup of coffee per day reduced people's risk of developing the disease by 4–6%.

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Why Coffee Might Reduce the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

coffee cup surrounded by coffee beans

This study isn't the first to examine the relationship between coffee and type 2 diabetes development. Previous research has linked drinking a daily cup of joe to lower risk in people with a family history. But the new study sheds new light on how coffee's antioxidants might quell inflammation enough to prevent diabetes from developing in people of various health backgrounds.

More and more research shows that inflammation may play a major role in whether people contract type 2 diabetes.

"While short term-inflammation due to an injury or illness is normal, chronic inflammation, the type that occurs on an ongoing basis, can impact health and put a person at increased risk for a variety of conditions such as type 2 diabetes," says Carrie Gabriel, MS, RD, of Steps 2 Nutrition. "Having a lifestyle that incorporates more naturally anti-inflammatory foods and exercise is shown to decrease inflammation and protect against diseases such as diabetes."

Fortunately, coffee is rich in inflammation-busting antioxidants. "Coffee contains a variety of bioactive compounds, including chlorogenic acids and lignans, which have been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects," says endocrinologist Dr. Adnan Zahid, MD. "These compounds may help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, two factors that are believed to contribute to the development of diabetes."

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How Much Coffee Is Best (and What Kind)?

pour black coffee

The Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found that one extra cup of coffee per day (up to 6 cups) was associated with reduced type 2 diabetes risk. But that doesn't mean keeping the pot on all day is necessarily a good idea. Overdoing it on caffeine could leave you jittery and anxious.

"The average person ideally should not consume more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is the equivalent of 2 cups of coffee," says Gabriel.

If you already have diabetes, you may also need to watch your intake of both coffee and what you put in it, like sugar or flavored creamers. Gabriel cautions against loading up on high-calorie, high-sugar coffee creations—and watching caffeine levels while you're at it.

"For someone with type 2 diabetes, even 200 mg (or one cup) can cause glucose levels to rise and fall rapidly," she says. "For someone trying to control their blood sugars, limiting caffeine to one cup a day is really ideal for optimal health."

Dr. Zahid also urges talking with your doctor before downing copious amounts of java. "I encourage my patients to maintain a healthy lifestyle and to consult with their healthcare provider before making any changes to their diet or exercise habits," he says.

As for which type of coffee to drink for the best results? The researchers found that filtered coffee and espresso were the best forms to drink for risk reduction.

Sarah Garone, NDTR, CNC
Sarah Garone, NDTR, is a registered nutrition and dietetic technician, and a health, nutrition, and food writer. Read more about Sarah
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