Coffee Lowers Type 2 Diabetes Risk (Plus, 3 More Reasons It's Good For You)

If you love coffee, you’ll love this even more: Drinking just one and a half extra cups per day over a period of four years reduces a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes on average by 11 percent, according to a study of 123,733 people that was published Thursday in the journal Diabetologia.

What’s more, the study found that people who decreased their intake by a cup or more per day had a 17 percent higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. And those who drank the most coffee (three cups or more per day) and maintained that consumption had a 37 percent lower risk than people who consistently drank one cup or less per day.  

“We already know from previous meta-analysis that people who drink anywhere between one and six cups of coffee per day experience a 33 percent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, but we were curious what happened when people changed their consumption habits,” lead study author Shilpa Bhupathiraju, PhD, a research fellow at Harvard University’s department of nutrition, tells Yahoo Shine. “Keep in mind, we aren’t talking about oversized cups of Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts (coffee) or lattes and other sweetened coffee drinks — one serving in our study was eight fluid ounces (or 240ml) of black coffee.”

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Type 2 diabetes affects 90 to 95 percent of the 26 million people living with diabetes. And troubling 1 in 8 Americans has been diagnosed with the condition, according to a 2013 Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll. The condition, which is lifelong and chronic, restricts the body from making enough insulin (which the body needs for energy) and prevents sugar (glucose) from entering the body’s cells. When that happens, the person can experience hardened arteries, leading to stroke or heart attack, or severe dehydration. If not treated, he or she can even slip into a diabetic coma. While anyone can develop type 2 diabetes, the people most at risk are those who are overweight or don’t exercise, people who have high blood pressure or family members with the condition, and certain ethnic or racial groups.  

"We speculate that coffee is associated with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes because from animal studies, we know it contains chlorogenic acid which has been shown to improve glucose absorption. We also know that coffee is a source of magnesium, which is associated with lower risk of Type 2 diabetes," says Bhupathiraju. "The caffeine has nothing to do with it."

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And while coffee is not a magical elixir that prevents diabetes or any other health problem, it does boast some serious perks.

It’s a mood booster: One large Harvard study found that people who drink two to four cups of coffee per day experience a 50 percent lower risk of committing suicide. Researchers surmise that caffeine acts as a low-dose antidepressant due to the release of the feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline. There is also a link between caffeine and a lower risk of depression, says the American Academy of Neurology.

It lessens your risk of skin cancer: According to a study of nearly 113,000 people published in the journal Cancer Research, people who drink three or more cups of coffee per day are less likely to develop skin cancer than those who don’t. "Caffeine may help the body kill off damaged skin cells," Dr. Josh Zeichner, assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, told ABC News. "If you get rid of these cells that are damaged, then they don't have the opportunity to grow and form cancers."

It improves your workout: Aside from providing a boost of energy, caffeine ups the number of fatty acids in your bloodstream, allowing you to move faster because your muscles use that fat for fuel, reserving the amount of carbohydrates in your body for later use, according to a story published in the New York Times.

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