Coffee is the hot beverage of choice for people around the world, and is particularly favored by the elderly population. Luckily, studies show that this beverage – whether caffeinated or not – can have some health benefits.
A number of studies have shown that people who drink a lot of coffee each day have a significantly reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. People who drink four cups of coffee or more each day lower their chance of developing this chronic disease by 50 percent. Every additional cup of coffee reduces the risk by about 7 percent. Now, researchers say they have figured out how this health perk works.
A recent study published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry found that coffee’s protective effects against diabetes stem from certain substances that block a misfolding process. The misfolding of a substance called human islet amyloid polypeptide is known to cause type 2 diabetes, and the recent research shows there are two compounds in coffee that significantly inhibited this folding.
Other scientists have suggested that antioxidants in coffee can also help prevent tissue damage caused by oxygen-free radicals, WebMD reports. Minerals such as magnesium and chromium found in coffee may also help the body use hormone insulin which controls blood sugar levels, the news source reports. Caffeine is not the beneficial element of the beverage, researchers say. Studies of decaf versions of the drink have shown similar benefits, which may be good news for people who have been advised to stay away from this stimulant.
Regular coffee may have particular benefits for people with Alzheimer’s disease, though. A recent study found that a yet-unidentified component in coffee interacts with caffeine to protect against Alzheimer’s. Another study from 2009 found that of 1,400 people followed for about 20 years, those who reported drinking between three and five cups of coffee each day were 65 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who did not drink coffee as often or at all, WebMD reports. In addition, it has had consistent results of decreasing a person’s risk for Parkinson’s disease.