When consumed in excess, coffee can be extremely harmful to our digestive system and sleep cycle. In moderation, however, it can yield a wide array of benefits. Among these, according to a new study conducted by the American Heart Association, concerns cardiovascular health.
The study, which was published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure, employed 21,000 US adults.
The sample was previously featured in the Framingham Heart Study (FHS), which has been monitoring their health since 1948. Before the end of the analysis, the researchers from the new report compared The FHS results with research documented in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC) and the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS).
After a 10 year follow-up, it was determined that participants who regularly consumed at least three cups of coffee a day reduced their risk of suffering a stroke or a heart attack by a third. More discreetly, each cup of coffee reduces one’s risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event by as much as 12%.
The results survived on caffeine, specifically the antioxidants and plant chemicals found in caffeine that reduce inflammation in the body.
“The association between caffeine and heart failure risk reduction was surprising,” says senior author Dr. David Kao from the University of Colorado in a media release.
“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.”
Results from the Atherosclerosis study concluded that drinking more than two cups a day lowers heart failure (HF) risk by roughly 30 percent. Strangely, decaf coffee seemed to either induce the opposite effect or no effect at all.
The optimal way to prepare coffee, as far as health advantages are concerned, is to filter it and drink it black without sugar.
“We identified multiple dietary and behavioral risk factors for cardiovascular disease outcomes including marital status, red meat consumption, whole milk consumption, and coffee consumption. Among these dietary variables, increasing coffee consumption was associated with decreasing long-term risk of HF congruently in FHS, ARIC, and CHS,” the authors wrote in the new paper.
“Higher coffee intake was found to be associated with reduced risk of HF in all three studies. Further study is warranted to better define the role, possible causality, and potential mechanism of coffee consumption as a potential modifiable risk factor for HF.”
The data indeed above has been corroborated by independently conducted research from the recent past. Up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine or the equivalent of four cups a day is routinely cited by academics as the safest daily value for otherwise healthy adults.
“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,” the authors concluded.
“The risks and benefits of drinking coffee have been topics of ongoing scientific interest due to the popularity and frequency of consumption worldwide. Studies reporting associations with outcomes remain relatively limited due to inconsistencies in diet assessment and analytical methodologies, as well as inherent problems with self-reported dietary intake.”