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April 2021

Drinking Coffee for Diabetes and Heart Health

Reports suggest that 62% of Americans drink coffee every day – typically a little over 3 cups. Claims about the potential health benefits and risks associated with drinking coffee, especially for heart health, have been confusing over the years. Does it really benefit heart health? What about diabetes? Should some patients avoid coffee completely?

When it comes to heart health, the jury’s still out. Despite many conflicting headlines, it’s unclear if drinking coffee reduces the risk of developing heart disease. Explain to patients that drinking coffee every day is linked to a slightly lower risk of dying from any cause or from heart disease. It also might lower the risk for heart failure – some observational evidence shows that drinking at least 2 cups of coffee daily is linked to about a 30% reduced risk of heart failure. Even so, make sure patients with heart conditions are cautious, as regularly drinking more than 5 cups of coffee daily has been linked to increased heart attack risk in people with existing heart disease.

Research on diabetes is more positive. There’s observational evidence that drinking caffeinated coffee reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes – the more coffee you drink, the lower the risk. Drinking 6 or more cups of coffee daily has been linked to a 54% lower risk of diabetes in men, and a 29% lower risk in women. But don’t advise patients to drink this much – drinking more than 4 cups daily has been linked to side effects such as irregular heartbeat, sleeping problems, headache and anxiety. And patients with diabetes should monitor their blood sugar closely when drinking coffee – the caffeine in coffee can cause both increases and decreases in blood sugar.

If patients ask about whether drinking coffee is beneficial, explain that there might be some benefits when roasted coffee is consumed in moderation – no more than 4 cups daily. This generally provides 400 mg of caffeine and is likely safe for most people. It’s unclear whether green coffee has similar benefits. Make sure patients understand that consuming very high amounts of caffeine can cause serious health problems. And tell patients with certain conditions, including anxiety and epilepsy, to be cautious – drinking coffee might make their condition worse.

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2021 Natural Medicines Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. Natural Medicines is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.