Coffee for your heart? New research says yes to four cups daily

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Heart Health | Monday, March 23, 2015 - 05:06 AM

drink-coffee-to-protect-heartFor years, health authorities believed coffee was bad for your heart. But listen up, java lovers, there’s a new reason to have that extra cup of coffee every day! Drinking as many as four cups daily may actually help in the prevention of a heart attack. That’s according to new research published by BMJ Heart.

 

The BMJ Heart Study

Compared to people who don’t drink coffee at all, those who have three to four cups of the black stuff every day have 40 percent less coronary artery calcium – or CAC –according to the BMJ Heart study. A well-established marker of heart disease, CAC in greater quantities hardens and narrows the arteries, which can cause blood clots that can lead to stroke and increase your risk of a heart attack.

In fact, even people who drank as little as one cup every day saw a reduction in CAC, according to researchers. It’s just one of a few studies that have linked moderate coffee consumption to a healthier heart. Now, if you’re at risk for osteoporosis, where the bones become porous and fragile, stick to just one or two cups of coffee a day. The caffeine can interfere with your ability to absorb calcium and make use of vitamin D – both important for your bones.

Coffee buzz for better heart health

For the heart study, scientists looked at more than 25,000 men and women in South Korea – those who were roughly 40 years of age, had no signs of heart disease and attended a health-screening examination.

Key factors in coffee that help prevent a heart attack

They discovered that a CAC score ratio of about 0.6 was associated with those consuming three to five cups per day, compared with non-coffee drinkers. For those drinking less than one cup a day, it was more like 0.8, dropping to 0.7 for people having one to three cups.

On the other hand, the ratio rose to 0.8 for people having five or more each day. And things like age, sex, weight, diabetes and hypertension, as well as alcohol and tobacco consumption didn’t affect the outcome. Neither did factors such as education, physical activity, family history of heart disease and dietary consumption of fruits, vegetables, red meat and processed meats, according to scientists.

Of course, it’s not clear how exactly coffee helps with the prevention of a heart attack. Researchers don’t know whether decaf coffee offers the same heart benefits as the full-strength kind. But they continue to point out the many antioxidants in coffee. Some of these may even reduce your body’s sensitivity to insulin – or improve cell function altogether. And these are two important factors behind the prevention of a heart attack.

Major step toward heart attack prevention

In the future, additional studies will no doubt confirm these findings and establish the biological basis of coffee’s potential when it comes to the prevention of coronary artery disease and a heart attack.

So if you enjoy those cups of coffee, you’ve got another reason to feel good about your routine. Just don’t guzzle throughout the day…

The benefits of drinking coffee are mitigated if you drink more than four cups each day, for example. And what you put in your coffee makes a real difference, too. That means limiting or cutting out the sugar, syrup, whipped cream and artificial sweeteners, as well as coffee creamers with partially hydrogenated oils.

That aside, enjoy your coffee. I think I’ll pour myself a cup right now!

 

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