The study, the largest to look at coffee’s potential role in heart disease and death, found that the trends held for those with and without cardiovascular disease, and suggested that coffee may be heart protective.
Conducted by Alfred Hospital and Baker Heart Institute in Melbourne, Australia, and using data from UK BioBank, the study analyzed health information from over half a million people over ten years.
Researchers looked at varying levels of coffee consumption – ranging from up to a cup to more than six cups a day – and the relationship with heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias); cardiovascular disease, including coronary artery disease, heart failure, and stroke; and total and heart-related deaths among people both with and without cardiovascular disease.
Three separate studies were carried out with the outcome that maximum benefit was experienced by those drinking two to three cups of coffee a day, with less benefit seen among those drinking more or less than this.
While most of us are aware of the caffeine boost in coffee, the beans are thought to have a range of benefits and contain over 100 biologically active compounds.
These substances can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity, boost metabolism, inhibit the gut’s absorption of fat, and block receptors known to be involved with abnormal heart rhythms.
However, before we all reach for a double espresso, some caution has been urged around the report and its limitations.
Researchers were unable to control for dietary factors that may play a role in cardiovascular disease, nor were they able to adjust for any creamers, milk, or sugar consumed.
Participants were predominantly white, so additional studies are needed to determine whether these findings extend to other populations.
Finally, the coffee intake of participants was based on self-report via a questionnaire fielded at the study entry.
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