Heartfelt news for your favourite brew: Coffee protects against heart disease. Scientists have discovered that a cup or two of your favourite coffee each day helps protect you against heart disease.
Coffee lovers rejoice! The dark brown brew that gets your heart pumping each morning may actually be the brew that keeps it pumping long into old age.
Yes, that’s right. Coffee is the new – and tasty – weapon in the fight against heart disease, says a new study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Heart Failure.
Coronary artery disease, heart failure and stroke are among the top causes of death from heart disease in the western world.
The new study’s authors collated and examined data from three comprehensive studies that looked at caffeinated coffee consumption and incidence of heart disease.
Each study included at least 10 years of follow-up, and, collectively, the studies provided information on more than 21,000 adult participants.
To evaluate the outcomes of drinking caffeinated coffee, researchers categorized consumption as 0 cups per day, 1 cup per day, 2 cups per day and 3 cups per day.
The analysis revealed that:
- In all three studies, people who reported drinking one or more cups of caffeinated coffee had an associated decreased long-term heart failure risk.
- In two of the studies, the risk of heart failure during the course of decades decreased by 5-to-12% per cup per day of coffee, compared with no coffee consumption.
- In one study, the risk of heart failure did not change between 0 to 1 cup per day of coffee; however, it was about 30% lower in people who drank at least 2 cups a day.
- In one of the studies, drinking decaffeinated coffee appeared to have an opposite effect on heart failure risk – significantly increasing the risk of heart failure.
- In another, however, there was no increase or decrease in risk of heart failure associated with drinking decaffeinated coffee.
When the researchers looked at this finding more deeply, they discovered that caffeine consumption from any source appeared to be associated with decreased heart failure risk and that caffeine was at least a part of the reason for the apparent benefit of drinking more coffee.
“The association between caffeine and heart failure risk reduction was surprising,” says lead author Dr David P Kao, assistant professor of cardiology and medical director at the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
“Coffee and caffeine are often considered by the general population to be ‘bad’ for the heart because people associate them with palpitations, high blood pressure, etc. The consistent relationship between increasing caffeine consumption and decreasing heart failure risk turns that assumption on its head. “However, there is not yet enough clear evidence to recommend increasing coffee consumption to decrease risk of heart disease with the same strength and certainty as stopping smoking, losing weight or exercising.”
According to the dietary guidelines in the United States, three to five 8-ounce cups (227 millilitres) of coffee per day can be part of a healthy diet, but that only refers to plain black coffee.
The American Heart Association warns that popular coffee-based drinks such as lattes and macchiatos are often high in calories, added sugar and fat.
In addition, despite its benefits, research has shown that caffeine also can be dangerous if consumed in excess. Additionally, children should avoid caffeine. The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends that, in general, kids avoid beverages with caffeine.
“While unable to prove causality, it is intriguing that these three studies suggest that drinking coffee is associated with a decreased risk of heart failure and that coffee can be part of a healthy dietary pattern if consumed plain, without added sugar and high fat dairy products such as cream,” said Penny M. Kris-Etherton, chairperson of the American Heart Association’s Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Council Leadership Committee and professor of nutrition at The Pennsylvania State University.
“The bottom line: enjoy coffee in moderation as part of an overall heart-healthy dietary pattern that meets recommendations for fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat/non-fat dairy products, and that also is low in sodium, saturated fat and added sugars.
“Also, it is important to be mindful that caffeine is a stimulant and consuming too much may be problematic – causing jitteriness and sleep problems.”