Research suggests that coffee diminishes the risk of heart failure. Many people drink coffee with milk, cappuccino, or mochaccino to wake up in the morning, but few issues are as controversial as caffeine’s health effects.
So the University of Colorado scientists decided to combine the results of three extensive studies and concluded that having a cup or more of coffee a day could reduce the risk of heart failure.
Heart failure happens when the organ cannot pump blood through the body efficiently, usually because it is too weak or stiff.
This problem tends to worsen over time, limiting the patient’s activities and often being lethal.
Incredibly, research suggests that to benefit heart health, coffee must contain caffeine.
“The association between caffeine and diminished risk of heart failure was surprising,” says Dr David Kao, author of the research.
“Coffee and caffeine are often considered ‘bad’ for the heart because they are associated with palpitations, high blood pressure, etc.,” he says.
“The consistent relationship between increased caffeine consumption and reduced risk of heart failure counters this idea.”
“However, there is still inadequate evidence to recommend increasing coffee consumption to reduce the risk of heart problems with the same certainty as other established recipes, such as quitting smoking, losing weight and exercising,” he concludes.
Heart disease accounts for more than a quarter of deaths in the UK.
“Cigarettes, age and high blood pressure are some of the most well-known cardiac risk factors, but there are still other unidentified factors,” says Dr Kao.
Recent research has linked coffee to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and prostate cancer.
However, excessive consumption by pregnant women has been associated with brain changes in the fetus that could affect the baby’s behaviour.
Many people also experience palpitations and insomnia when drinking too much coffee.
“The risks and benefits of coffee have been the subject of much scientific research, due to the popularity and frequency of consumption of the drink worldwide,” explains Dr Linda Van Horn, an affiliate of the American Heart Association (AHA) nutrition committee.
“However, the studies that prove associations with the results remain relatively limited due to inconsistencies in the evaluation of the diet and the analytical methodologies. Furthermore, the information on food consumption comes from the people analyzed, which is also a problem,” she continues.
For more information, Colorado scientists applied machine learning on the AHA’s precision medicine platform, examining data from the Framingham Study.
These data were compared with those from a study on Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities and Cardiovascular Health.
The three studies had higher than 21,000 participants, followed for at least ten years.
The overall result, published in AHA’s Circulation: Heart Failure, suggests that people who drink one or more mugs of coffee a day have “a reduced risk of long-term heart failure.”
Specifically, in the Framingham Study, the risk of heart failure was reduced by 5% to 12% “over decades”, per cup of coffee and per day, compared to no consumption.
Consumption from zero to one coffee cup a day was not related to a reduced risk of heart failure in the study on Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities.
However, the risk was reduced by about 30% among participants who consumed at least two cups a day.
Although many people consider decaffeinated coffee to be healthier, studies have shown mixed results regarding this option’s cardiac benefits.
Colorado scientists concluded that “caffeine consumption from any source appears to be associated with a decreased risk of heart failure. Caffeine for at least part of the reason for the apparent benefit of increased coffee consumption “.
To further benefit health, coffee should be consumed without sugar. It is also good to avoid milk and other preparations, which can be very caloric, especially those containing syrups.
“Although it is not possible to prove causality, it is interesting that the three studies suggest that coffee consumption is correlated with a lessened risk of heart failure. Coffee can be part of a healthy diet if consumed pure, with no added sugar and high-fat dairy products such as sour cream.” This is explained by Dr Penny Kris-Etherton, former head of the AHA cardiometabolic health and lifestyle board leadership committee.
“The conclusion is this: drink coffee in moderation and have a heart-healthy diet that meets the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and dairy products with low or no-fat content, always low in sodium, saturated fat and added sugars, “she continues.
“It is also worth remembering that caffeine is a stimulant. Therefore, excessive consumption can be harmful, causing insomnia and anxiety,” she concludes.
Colorado scientists pointed out that study participants reported their coffee consumption, which may have caused some inaccuracies.
They also did not consider the type of coffee drunk, the origin of the beans, whether it was filtered or the cup’s size. All of this can influence the amount of caffeine consumed.
Besides, the results cannot be associated with teas, soft drinks or energy drinks since the studies analyzed only coffee.