National Coffee Day: 2-3 cups of coffee a day could be good for your heart health, according to a new study

NEW YORK CITY– Drinking two to three cups a day of most types of coffee can protect you from cardiovascular disease and early death, a new study finds.

“The results suggest that light to moderate consumption of ground, instant, and decaffeinated coffee should be considered part of a healthy lifestyle,” said study author Peter Kistler, chief clinical electrophysiology research at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and chief of electrophysiology at Alfred Melbourne Hospital.

The researchers found “significant reductions” in the risk of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure and stroke with all three types of coffee. However, only ground and instant coffee with caffeine reduced the risk of an irregular heartbeat called an arrhythmia. Decaffeinated coffee did not lower this risk, according to the study published Wednesday in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Previous studies have also shown that moderate amounts of black coffee — between 3 and 5 cups a day — reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, type 2 diabetes, liver disease and prostate cancer.

“This manuscript adds to the evidence from observational studies linking moderate coffee consumption to cardioprotection, which looks promising,” said Charlotte Mills, lecturer in nutrition at the University of Reading in the UK, in a statement.

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However, like many in the past, this study was observational only and therefore cannot prove direct cause and effect, added Mills, who was not involved with the study.

“Does coffee make you healthy or do healthier people consume coffee?” She asked. “Randomized controlled trials are needed to prove the relationship between coffee and cardiovascular health.”

Ground, caffeinated coffee lowered the risk the most

The study used data from the UK Biobank, a research database containing coffee consumption preferences from nearly 450,000 adults who were free of arrhythmias or other cardiovascular diseases at the start of the study. They were divided into four groups: those who enjoyed caffeinated ground coffee, those who opted for decaffeinated coffee, those who preferred caffeinated instant coffee, and those who didn’t drink coffee at all.

After an average of 12.5 years, the researchers examined medical and death records for reports of cardiac arrhythmia, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and death. After accounting for age, diabetes, race, high blood pressure, obesity, obstructive sleep apnea, gender, smoking status, and tea and alcohol consumption, the researchers found that all types of coffee were associated with a reduction in all-cause deaths.

The fact that both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee were beneficial “might suggest that it’s not simply the caffeine that might explain an associated risk reduction,” said Duane Mellor, a registered dietitian and senior associate professor at Aston University Medical School in Birmingham in the UK, in a statement. He was not involved in the study.

“Caffeine is the most well-known component of coffee, but the beverage contains more than 100 biologically active components,” said Kistler, who holds joint appointments as professor of medicine at the University of Melbourne and Monash University.

“It is likely that the non-caffeinated compounds were responsible for the observed positive relationships between coffee drinking, cardiovascular disease and survival,” Kistler said.

According to the statement, drinking two to three cups of coffee a day was associated with the largest reduction in early death compared to people who didn’t drink coffee. Ground coffee consumption reduced the risk of death by 27%, followed by 14% for decaffeinated and 11% for instant caffeinated coffee.

The association between coffee and a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke wasn’t as strong: Drinking two to three cups of ground coffee a day reduced the risk by 20%, while the same amount of decaffeinated coffee reduced the risk by 6% and instant by 9 % lowered %.

The data changed when it came to coffee’s effects on irregular heartbeats: Four to five cups of caffeinated ground coffee a day reduced the risk by 17%, while two to three cups of instant coffee a day reduced the likelihood of abnormal heart rhythms by 12% , the statement said .

Further studies required

A limitation of the study was that it self-reported coffee consumption at a single point in time, said Annette Creedon, a nutritionist and manager at the British Nutrition Foundation, which is funded in part by food manufacturers, retailers and foodservice companies.

“This study had a median follow-up of 12.5 years, during which many aspects of the participants’ diet and lifestyle may have changed,” Creedon said in a statement. She wasn’t part of the research.

Additionally, coffee can produce negative side effects for some people, she added. For example, people with trouble sleeping or uncontrolled diabetes should consult a doctor before adding caffeine to their diet.

These negative side effects “may be particularly relevant for individuals who are sensitive to the effects of caffeine,” Creedon said. “As such, the results of this study do not suggest that people should start drinking coffee if they are not already drinking it, or that they should increase their consumption.”

Most studies focus on the health benefits of black coffee and don’t consider the added sugar, cream, milk, and processed additives that many people use in coffee.

“A simple cup of coffee with maybe a little milk is very different than a tall latte with syrup and cream,” Mellor said.

In addition, the way coffee is brewed can also affect its health benefits. Filter coffee traps a compound called cafestol, which is present in the oily part of the coffee. Cafestol can increase bad cholesterol or LDL (low density lipoproteins).

However, using a French Press, Turkish coffee maker or boiling coffee (as is often done in Scandinavian countries) will not remove Cafestol.

Finally, the benefits of coffee don’t apply to children — even teens shouldn’t drink colas, coffee, energy drinks, or other beverages with any amount of caffeine, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. National Coffee Day: 2-3 cups of coffee a day could be good for your heart health, according to a new study

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