Coffee Helps Diabetics

Coffee has been a drink that people consume everyday, especially during breakfast. There are many negative reports on consuming coffee mainly due to its caffeine. A study reported in the Archives of Internal medicine that there is a link between drinking coffee and a reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Nevertheless, it is still not clear that whether the protective effect is due caffeine or other ingredients presented in coffee.

Diabetes has been considered a risk factor of heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes develops when pancreas does not make enough insulin or when insulin cannot be used by the body properly. Insulin is a hormone that converts sugars into energy. This form of diabetes is commonly found among people aged 40 and above, especially those overweight and physically inactive.

The study, conducted by the University of Minnesota, examined over 28,000 postmenopausal women over a period of 11 years (1986 -1997). Women who drank more than 6 cups of coffee per day were less likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. Those who drank decaffeinated coffee showed a further reduced risk.

Questions were answered by these women about risk factors for diabetes, and details given about their lifestyle and beverage consumption (including regular and decaffeinated coffee). After adjusting the data for other risk factors for diabetes, it was found that women who drank more than 6 cups of any type of coffee daily were 22 percent less likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than non-coffee drinkers. Those who drank more than 6 cups of decaffeinated coffee per day had a 33-percent reduced risk.

The overall intake of caffeine did not appear to be related to diabetes risk, suggesting that another ingredient in coffee might have contributed to the effect. The researchers suggested that magnesium, and other minerals and nutrients found in coffee bean such as polyphenols and antioxidants, may be responsible for this beneficial effect. However, further studies are required to ascertain this.

Other experts expressed some concerns about this study. Firstly, the participants were only limited to postmenopausal women and so are not representative of the population. Secondly, there is no objective measure to ensure that the reported diet or incidence of diabetes were accurate because data were collected from self-administrative questionnaires. Thirdly, there are many kinds of foods containing hundreds of different phytochemicals and antioxidants. It may not be appropriate to simply rely on any single food to obtain these nutrients. Finally, taking too much coffee can cause side effects. More than 3 cups of coffee a day can cause nervousness, stomach distress, insomnia, and for some people, irregular heartbeat.

While awaiting further research confirmation about the beneficial effect of drinking coffee, people with diabetes, however, still need to maintain healthy eating habits, regular physical activity, and more importantly, maintain a healthy body weight.

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