Nature gifted humans with two particularly flavorful beans: chocolate and coffee. Past pleasure, new studies are finding that these two “magic” beans might help prevent diabetes.
Coffee and Type 2 diabetes
Danish researchers recently found that cafestol– a compound in coffee — increased insulin secretion, reduced fasting glucose levels, and improved insulin sensitivity in mice. Previous studies have shown coffee helps with diabetes, but many researchers believed the benefit came from the caffeine.
This study points out that there are over 1,000 other chemicals in coffee, and cafestol could possibly be one of the most precious ones. It can explain why both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee frequently bring down blood sugar levels. (Not necessarily though: In some coffee studies, glucose was proven to run higher, but that may well have been due to the sweeteners and cream people added to their coffee.)
The mice were fed cafestol for fourteen days. Control mice were not provided cafestol. Groups fed cafestol experienced a 28% to 30% reduction in blood glucose levels, in comparison with the control group.
Mice fed cafestol had a 42% increase in insulin sensitivity, the reverse of insulin resistance. Their beta cells showed a 75 percent to 87% growth in insulin production.
Another study from the researchers found that cafestol and caffeic acid, another chemical in coffee, higher insulin production in the presence of glucose. This is just what the category of drugs called GLP-1 receptor agonists (incretins) do.
Cafestol was likewise found to increase glucose uptake into muscle cells at a similar speed to current diabetes drugs. Unfortunately, drip-brewed coffee contains hardly any cafestol, because the filter captures all of it. You need to drink espresso or Turkish or Greek coffee to get much cafestol. Cafestol also increases cholesterol, which may or may not be a concern.
That is all good for the rodents, but what about people? Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) looked at records of over 120,000 people from three big studies. According to Medical News Today, those who “increased their coffee intake by at least one cup a day…had an 11 percent lower” likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes. Individuals who lowered their coffee consumption had a 17% higher risk.”
The study was published in the journal Diabetologia. “Our findings confirm previous studies that showed that higher coffee consumption was associated with lower Type 2 diabetes risk,” said Shilpa Bhupathiraju, PhD, lead author and research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at HSPH.
Coffee has a wide range of other health benefits you can learn about here. Among others, it reduces the chance of several kinds of cancer and the risk of stroke.
Chocolate and Type 2 diabetes
Researchers at Brigham Young University and Virginia Tech are studying flavanols, that are antioxidants found in cocoa. They appear to reduce diabetes.
Antioxidants maintain our cells from becoming damaged by oxygen floating around in our blood. You have seen how rust damages metal? Oxygen does this. There is a lot of oxygen floating around our bodies “rusting” our cells. These oxygen molecules are called “free radicals.”
Antioxidants protect cells by mixing together using the free radicals. According to the Berkeley Wellness Center, antioxidants “‘spare’ our cells by becoming oxidized themselves. For the most part, our antioxidant reserves can keep…oxidation in check,” but we will need to keep up our antioxidant source.
Chocolate has a lot of the antioxidants called flavanols, and they appear to maintain blood sugars and weight in check in rodents. Medical News Today reports, in rats that received a high-fat diet that included a ginger compound, “amounts of obesity were decreased, and the rats’ ability to handle increased glucose levels were increased.” Researchers credited a flavanol called catechin.
“What happens is, [catechin] is protecting the tissues,” said Brigham Young professor Jeffery Tessem, PhD. “It is raising their ability to deal with oxidative stress. The catechins…are making the mitochondria in the beta cells stronger, which generates more ATP (a cell’s energy supply), which results in more insulin being discharged.”
The authors caution against taking chocolate-as-medicine too much better. Eating sugary, high-fat chocolate won’t protect from diabetes. But a square or two of dark chocolate daily might help.
Which is better, coffee or chocolate? Coffee has more research on its side, but why not try both? I have heard they go well together.
You might want to avoid coffee in the day, so as not to be kept awake by the caffeine, and you might want to check your blood sugar levels after coffee or chocolate occasionally to see how they impact you.
You also don’t wish to add a great deal of cream and sugar to your coffee. Use common sense with them, and these beans can help you be healthier and possibly enjoy life a bit more.
Wish to find out more about chocolate, coffee, and diabetes? Read “Great News for Chocolate Fans,””Caffeine: Friend or Foe? (Part 1),” and “Caffeine: Friend or Foe? (Part 2).”
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