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Coffee for diabetes: How does it affect blood sugar levels?

Is coffee and diabetes a safe combination? Know what an expert says about the effect of coffee consumption on people with type-2 diabetes.

Who does not love starting the day by brewing a fresh cup of aromatic coffee? It can help us do away with the morning blues. But can people with type-2 diabetes enjoy coffee like the others? Those struggling with blood sugar levels may often wonder if they could benefit from drinking coffee. The answer lies in the fact that coffee contains certain chemicals other than caffeine that may have some beneficial effects on people with diabetes. But to understand if coffee for diabetes is a good idea, let us dive deeper.

Is coffee good for you?

Coffee has a lot many chemicals, including caffeine and polyphenols, that impact our body differently. Polyphenols are those molecules that boost antioxidant properties, and antioxidants are known to fight free radicals that are an outcome of oxidative stress in the body. These free radicals can put anyone at risk of getting chronic diseases like type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

coffee for diabetes
Coffee consumption can have positive effect on people with type-2 diabetes to some extent. Image courtesy: Freepik

Coffee is rich in antioxidants that can help combat inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which are linked to diabetes and its complications, says nutritionist Avni Kaul. Alongside, antioxidants also play a major role in keeping the heart healthy. People with diabetes are more prone to developing heart disease and stroke and consuming an antioxidant-rich diet can help mitigate the risk.

Coffee also has minerals like magnesium and chromium. Enhancing magnesium intake can help curb the risk of getting type-2 diabetes. Despite everything, coffee has these nutrients in very low amounts in comparison to other foods, so people cannot just rely on coffee for their daily vitamin or mineral intake.

As per research, drinking 3 to 4 cups of coffee every day could aid in curbing a person’s risk of developing type-2 diabetes. In another 2013 study, people who amped up their coffee intake by more than 1 cup per day over 4 years had a 11 percent lesser risk of developing type-2 diabetes than those who adhered to their usual coffee intake.

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The study was also able to notice that people who reduced their coffee consumption by more than 1 cup per day had a 17 percent greater risk of developing type-2 diabetes.

Also read: Don’t have tea or coffee very close to your meals! Here’s why

Effect of coffee on blood glucose and insulin

Plain coffee may not bring about a spike in blood sugar or blood glucose levels. This makes coffee a boon for people with diabetes who are fond of black coffee. However, as per research, caffeine in coffee can hinder insulin sensitivity, which does not make it an ideal choice for people with diabetes.

That being said, coffee contains certain bioactive compounds like chlorogenic acids, polyphenols, chromium, or magnesium that might improve glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity by offsetting the effects of caffeine, says the expert.

So, if you are now wondering which coffee is best for diabetes, let us answer. Diabetics can drink decaffeinated coffee to get the maximum benefits from its other components like antioxidants and minerals without the risk of insulin sensitivity.

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coffee for diabetes
Healthy coffee drinking habits will help keep your blood sugar levels under control! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Working out

As per the Colombia Medica Journal, drinking caffeine before working out may curb blood sugar levels in people with type-2 diabetes.

So, diabetics can rely on coffee before exercising to lower the risk of blood sugar spikes.

Is caffeine harmful?

Caffeine is the most active stimulant in coffee. It forms naturally in coffee beans and green tea. Caffeine activates the central nervous system and generally increases mental alertness, relieves fatigue and improves focus.

As per the US Food and Drug Administration, in the general American population, 400 milligrams of caffeine – which makes 4 to 5 cups of coffee – every day generally shows no negative effects. However, since research on people with diabetes is mixed, it is still safe to consult a healthcare provider about knowing how much coffee is safe.

The benefits of coffee can be negated if it is consumed with high amounts of sugar, flavoured syrups, or full-fat dairy products. These additives can increase calorie intake and negatively affect blood sugar control. It is important for diabetics to monitor their responses to coffee and avoid coffee-laden additives, says nutritionist Avni Kaul.

“Caffeine can temporarily raise blood pressure, which is a concern for diabetics who often have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease,” she adds.

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