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Is Black Coffee Good for Diabetes? Insulin Response and Health Benefits
Diabetes

Is Black Coffee Good for Diabetes? Insulin Response and Health Benefits

Wendy Lord, RD
Written by Wendy Lord, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on October 22, 2022
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5 min

Drinking coffee can be a pick-me-up at any time of day, but if you have diabetes, it can have a negative impact on your blood sugar control. Is it better to drink your coffee black? This article explores the effect black coffee has on your blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity, and shares some benefits of drinking coffee.

Is black coffee good for diabetes
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Many people rely on their morning cup of coffee to get them going, and people with diabetes are no different. However, drinking coffee can have an impact on your diabetes management.

Blood glucose rises every time you eat or drink, so it’s essential to be aware of how your coffee will affect your body. Foods and beverages that cause a significant spike in glucose circulating in your bloodstream can make managing your diabetes more challenging.

To make your life with diabetes easier, we have examined the research to determine whether drinking black coffee is good for diabetes. This article informs you about coffee’s effect on your glycemic control and why moderate consumption can be beneficial. 

Is Black Coffee Good for Diabetes?

Yes, black coffee is good for diabetes, but it depends on how long you have been a coffee drinker. The results of scientific research on coffee and diabetes are mixed, with some concluding that coffee raises blood glucose and others suggesting that long-term regular coffee intake can have a positive effect on diabetes control.

A study examined the effect of abstinence, occasional consumption, and regular consumption of coffee on the development of diabetes mellitus. The results showed that the onset of diabetes was more likely in those who drank little to no coffee than those who were regular coffee drinkers.  

The effects of coffee on people living with diabetes are not as clear. One study found that people with diabetes who drank more than 2 cups of coffee daily reduced their risk of dying from complications of diabetes.

However, research published by the American Diabetes Association shows that coffee can increase the sugar and insulin levels in your blood after drinking a cup of coffee but has no influence on your fasting glucose levels. Therefore, you must monitor the effect of coffee on your readings. 

Black Coffee Nutritional Value per 100g

Black coffee offers very little nutritional value. It contains minor quantities of fats and protein but no carbohydrates, sugar, or fiber, making the calorie content exceptionally low.  

Net CarbsTotal CarbsFatsProtein
0g0g0.02g0.12g
CaloriesFiberSugarsGlycemic Index
10g0g50

Glycemic index of black coffee

However, coffee has a glycemic index (GI) of 50, making it a low-GI food. It contains caffeine, which is a stimulant, and caffeine might affect your sugar levels. 

How Does Coffee Affect Blood Sugar?

Peer-reviewed studies show that the caffeine in coffee adversely affects glucose metabolism. People with diabetes who enjoy coffee may experience higher daytime glucose levels and an exaggerated rise in blood sugar after eating.

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The exact mechanism for these effects is not understood. Scientists suggest that caffeine may reduce glucose uptake by fat and muscle cells, leaving more sugar in your blood. Another theory is that drinking caffeinated coffee results in the release of epinephrine (adrenaline), which is known to increase sugar levels and raise your heart rate

Coffee intake can also influence your insulin sensitivity, reducing it immediately after drinking it, resulting in higher levels of blood glucose. However, over time, regular moderate coffee consumption does not seem to have the same impact. 

Does Coffee Raise Blood Sugar? 

Coffee itself does not raise blood sugar, but drinking coffee is associated with increased glucose levels after a meal containing carbohydrates. A review study also concluded that coffee intake increases average blood sugar levels throughout the day.

People with diabetes must monitor their blood glucose to determine the effect of coffee on their glycemic control. It may be necessary to switch to decaffeinated coffee to avoid the sugar-raising effect of caffeine. 

Caffeine could also have such negative effects as bloating, so try to limit your daily cups of coffee if you see that this beverage makes you feel bloated.

Does Coffee Cause Insulin Resistance?

In healthy people, coffee does not cause insulin resistance. Numerous studies have suggested that coffee consumption does not reduce your body’s response to insulin, and it decreases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. That’s why coffee is a perfect beverage for fasting periods.

A review study concluded that it is unnecessary to restrict coffee intake in healthy individuals, those with prediabetes, or people with diabetes. 

It should be noted that drinking coffee can decrease insulin sensitivity in people who don’t have diabetes. However, people who regularly consume 2–4 cups of coffee per day don’t seem to feel any long-term negative effects on their blood insulin or sugar levels.

Which Is Better for Those With Diabetes: Tea or Coffee?

People with diabetes may want to consider drinking tea instead of coffee. However, in healthy people, both tea and coffee are associated with a reduced risk of diabetes when you drink 3 or more cups per day. 

Although tea may also contain caffeine, it doesn’t have the same impact on blood glucose in people with diabetes. Research suggests that tea inhibits the absorption of sugar and carbohydrates from the gastrointestinal system, helping maintain normal blood sugar levels. 

Instead of increasing blood glucose levels after a meal containing carbohydrates like coffee does, tea has been shown to reduce the rise in sugar after eating. Therefore, tea is a better choice than coffee for people who have diabetes. 

Health Benefits of Coffee

Moderate coffee consumption is associated with numerous health benefits, including a reduced risk of dying from chronic diseases, such as heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. This may be due to its beneficial effects on metabolism. 

Drinking coffee has also been shown to help protect your liver. Coffee drinkers are less likely to have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, liver fibrosis, and liver cirrhosis. Additionally, coffee is associated with a lower risk of gallbladder disease. 

Brain health is protected by regular coffee consumption. The incidence of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression is lower in coffee drinkers. 

Keto dieters drink bulletproof coffee to boost their metabolism, and some people even think that coffee and lemon might help to lose stubborn weight. 

FAQs

Can people with diabetes drink coffee with creamer?

People with diabetes can drink coffee with creamer in moderate amounts. Coffee creamer is a non-dairy product with a significant amount of fat and carbohydrates in the form of sugar. Therefore, it can increase glucose levels. Alternative options include almond or coconut milk.

Is decaf coffee good for diabetes?

Yes, decaffeinated coffee is good for diabetes. Caffeine in coffee is the reason behind raised sugar levels, and decaf coffee has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity.  It is especially useful for women with gestational diabetes who love coffee but have to limit their caffeine intake.

How many cups of coffee can a person with diabetes drink per day?

There is no official recommended limit to the number of coffee cups people with diabetes can drink. Drinking two 8-ounce cups of coffee daily can significantly increase your blood glucose levels. Therefore it is preferable for people with diabetes to drink decaffeinated coffee, in which case 3–5 cups per day is considered safe.

A Word From Our Nutritionist

People with diabetes must choose their food and beverages carefully to maintain healthy glycemic control. While drinking coffee can reduce the risk of developing diabetes in healthy people, it can affect your insulin sensitivity and blood glucose if you already have diabetes.

Coffee has numerous benefits, even for people with diabetes. Decaffeinated coffee contains the same beneficial plant chemicals as caffeinated coffee; only the caffeine has been removed. Therefore, you can still enjoy the health benefits of drinking 3–5 cups of coffee daily when you have diabetes.

To ensure your blood glucose doesn’t rise when you drink coffee, you must be careful about what you add to it. Creamers are made from fat and sugar and can cause a spike in blood sugar. Sweeteners such as sugar, honey, and coconut sugar should also be avoided, but you can safely use sweeteners such as stevia if you prefer sweeter coffee.

If you are looking for a daily diabetes tip, coffee can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet for people with diabetes, but decaffeinated black coffee is the best choice to manage diabetes more effectively.

Conclusion

Black coffee is better for diabetes than coffee with cream and sugar. However, decaffeinated black coffee is the best choice for people with diabetes because caffeine is the compound in coffee that may negatively affect your insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels.

Coffee consumption has been linked to numerous health-related benefits related to the plant chemicals found in your favorite beverage. Therefore, coffee can still reduce your risk of chronic diseases, cognitive decline, and liver conditions if you have diabetes.

Wendy Lord, RD
Written by
Wendy is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for writing about nutrition, health, and medicine. Her aim is to translate the medical jargon to make information accessible to everyone so that they can make informed decisions about their health.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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