Coffee, especially the decaffeinated kind, seems to offer protection against adult-onset diabetes, a study said on Monday.
What causes the apparent effect is unclear, the report from the University of Minnesota said, but it is possible that minerals and non-nutritive plant chemicals found in rich amounts in the coffee bean may favorably affect blood-sugar levels or protect the pancreas from stress.
The finding, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, was based on a study of more than 28,000 post-menopausal women in Iowa who were followed for 11 years.
When the study of the Iowa women began, more than 14,000 of them -- about half -- drank one to three cups of coffee per day, 2,875 drank more than six cups, 5,554 four to five cups, 3,231 less than one cup and 2,928 none. Over the 11 years of the study 1,418 of the women reported on surveys that they had been newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, reports Reuters AlertNet.
According to Forbes, "In our study, for whatever reason, it doesn't look like caffeine has anything to do with it," said lead researcher Mark A. Pereira, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
His team published its findings Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
In the study, Pereira's team gathered data on nearly 29,000 older women who answered questions about risk factors for diabetes such as age, body mass index, physical activity and smoking. They also reported on their consumption of various foods and beverages, including regular and decaffeinated coffee.
"When you get up to four or five or more cups per day, you might have very powerful antioxidant activity," he said. "That might be important for protecting the pancreas' beta cells from oxidant damage," he said.