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Drinking Coffee May Lower your Risk of Diabetes

Apr 25, 2014 12:11 PM EDT

Drinking more coffee may lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, new research from Harvard University, published Thursday in the journal Diabetologia, suggests.

Researchers found that people who increased their coffee consumption by at least one cup per day over a number of years (four to be exact) were 11 percent less likely to get type 2 diabetes compared with people who didn't change their coffee-drinking habits.

Those who had consistently higher coffee consumption -  three or more cups a day - had a 37 percent lower risk than people who consistently drank one or fewer cups a day, researchers found.

"Coffee is pretty fascinating," Shilpa Bhupathiraju, a nutritional epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health and the lead author of the paper, said according to a Los Angeles Times report. "It seems to be associated with a lower risk for many chronic diseases."

On the flip side, those who lowered their coffee intake to less than one cup a day interestingly increased their odds of developing type 2 diabetes by 17 percent.

Despite what some may think, it is not the caffeine that gives coffee these preventative powers, but a certain chemical ingredient.

"We know that phenolic compounds in coffee improves glucose metabolism in animal models," Bhupathiraju said. "Coffee is also a really good source of magnesium, which has been associated with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes."

Based on that assumption alone, you would think that drinking decaffeinated coffee would lower type 2 diabetes risk just as well as caffeinated coffee. Decaffeinated coffee does normally have preventative effects against type 2 diabetes, but drinking more of it did not significantly lower risk.

But, Bhupathiraju notes, running to the nearest Starbucks and drinking your fill of coffee is not the answer to evading type 2 diabetes.

"You can't get at causality with these studies," Bhupathiraju said. "You need a healthy body weight, a good diet and a healthy lifestyle.

And ordering a latte won't cut it either. The type of coffee involved in this study tended to be a simple eight-ounce cup of black coffee containing about 100 milligrams of caffeine.

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