Could Coffee Lower a Woman’s Odds of Diabetes After Pregnancy?

Women who had diabetes during pregnancy might want to treat themselves to another cup of joe.

New research shows that drinking coffee may lower their risk of type 2 diabetes.

Compared to the general female population, women who had gestational diabetes may have 10 times the risk for type 2, according to researchers at the Global Centre for Asian Women’s Health (GloW) at the National University of Singapore.

“The overall findings suggest that caffeinated coffee, when consumed properly [2 to 5 cups per day, without sugar and whole-fat/high-fat dairy], could be incorporated into a relatively healthy lifestyle for certain population,” GloW researcher Cuilin Zhang said in a university news release.

Past studies had shown that drinking 2 to 5 cups of caffeinated or decaf coffee daily was healthier than artificially and sugar-sweetened drinks.

To learn more, researchers followed more than 4,500 women who had a history of gestational diabetes over 25 years, examining long-time coffee consumption and risk. Most of the participants were white.

Compared to those who drank no coffee, those who downed 4 or more cups a day after their pregnancies had a 53% lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Those who drank 2 to 3 cups lowered their risk by 17%, and those who drank 1 cup or less had a 10% lower risk, the study found.

Decaf wasn’t found to have similar benefits. But researchers noted that relatively few women drank it so that may be why a link was not detected.

Researchers also found that replacing sweetened beverages with caffeinated coffee reduced type 2 diabetes risk by 10% for a cup of artificially sweetened beverage and 17% for a sugar-sweetened one.

Researchers said coffee could be beneficial because of its bioactive components, such as polyphenols, which are naturally occurring plant micronutrients. These are found in small amounts in plants and certain foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, oils and whole grains.

“The beneficial roles of coffee have been consistently suggested across diverse populations, including Asians,” Zhang said, adding that brewing methods, drinking frequency and other condiments contained in the coffee may vary from person to person.

She said more studies are needed to examine the role of coffee consumption and health outcomes.

Researchers noted that coffee may be problematic in excessive amounts, especially in certain groups. Not much is known about the effect of coffee on pregnancy, fetuses and children, they said.

“Although coffee presents as a potentially healthier alternative to sweetened beverages, the health benefits of coffee vary and much depend on the type and the amount of condiments, like sugar and milk, that you add into your coffee,” said first author Jiaxi Yang, a postdoctoral research fellow at GloW.

Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the U.S. National Institutes of Health collaborated on the study.

The findings were recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on gestational diabetes.

SOURCE: National University of Singapore, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, news release, Dec. 12, 2022