Researchers have known for some time that regular coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes: people who drink four or more cups of coffee each day have a 50 percent lower risk of the disease, with each additional cup associated with a further 7 percent drop in risk. But the cause of this bizarre connection has been a source of speculation.
Now, researchers in China have found evidence that coffee influences the misfolding of the human islet amyloid polypeptide (hIAPP), a protein implicated in causing Type 2 diabetes. According to their paper published in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry, certain compounds in coffee significantly inhibited the formation of toxic hIAPP amyloids, which likely explains the lowered risk of Type 2 diabetes in coffee lovers.
“These findings suggest that the beneficial effects of coffee consumption on [Type 2 diabetes] may be partly due to the ability of the major coffee components and metabolites to inhibit the toxic aggregation of hIAPP,” the authors wrote. “A beneficial effect may thus be expected for a regular coffee drinker.”