Can coffee decrease your risk of stroke and heart disease?
I love coffee, so I’m always keen to hear what science has to say about coffee consumption. One week it’s good for you and the next week it’s not. It’s tough to navigate the coffee jungle, so this information was great news for me. A new study among people with no diagnosis of heart disease finds that drinking up to three cups of coffee a day may protect your heart. Drinking 0.5 to 3 cups of coffee a day was associated with a “decreased risk of death from heart disease, stroke and early death from any cause when compared to non-coffee drinkers,” according to a study recently presented to the European Society of Cardiology.
Previous studies have found that moderate amounts of coffee can protect adults from type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s, liver disease, prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s, computer back pain and more. After analyzing data from three major studies, two studies found that the risk of heart failure decreased over time between 5% and 12% for each cup of caffeinated coffee consumed. In the third study, researchers found that drinking two or more cups a day decreased the risk by 30%. “The association between caffeine and heart failure risk reduction was surprising,” according to senior author Dr. David Kao, medical director of the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
What’s the deal?
So, is coffee good for you or not? Dr. Kao says, “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.” Another interesting find from the study is the association between decaf and an increased risk for heart failure. This makes sense when you think about it. “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,” according to registered dietitian Penny Kris-Etherton, past chairperson of the American Heart Association’s Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Council Leadership Committee.
A word of warning
A significant number of the coffee studies involve drinking black coffee. As soon as you add dairy products, flavors, non-dairy creamers or sugar, you’re likely to negate the heart-healthy benefits of coffee. In addition, most studies consider 8 ounces to be a cup. And if you’re a frequent visitor to coffee houses, you know the standard cup of coffee is much larger, in some cases 16 ounces or more. The way you brew your coffee can also affect the health benefits of coffee. Studies indicate that filtered coffee is best for you. Filtered coffee catches a compound called cafestol, which is present in the highest quantity in unfiltered French-press coffee, boiled coffee or Turkish/Greek coffee. Cafestol can increase your bad cholesterol or LDL (low-density lipoproteins).
For females only
And a final word of warning is due for females who drink more than 4 or more cups of coffee daily during pregnancy. A 2017 study found that drinking 4 or more cups a day while pregnant has been linked to low birth weight, preterm birth and stillbirths. If you have a sleep issue or uncontrolled diabetes, you should check with your physician before adding caffeine in any form to your diet. Experts caution that coffee also raises the likelihood of bone fractures in women who are at risk. Coffee had no such effect on men. Still confused? Check out these links for more information on coffee consumption and its impact on you.