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Research suggests that drinking more coffee makes for better heart health (photo: Starbucks)

Research published in February 2021 in Circulation: Heart Failure, an American Heart Association journal, reinforced the already strong link between coffee consumption and heart health.

An analysis of three large, well-known heart disease studies found drinking one or more cups of caffeinated coffee is associated with decreased heart failure risk. The study found that drinking decaffeinated coffee did not have the same benefit and might be associated with an increased risk of heart failure. Although highly promising, the researchers behind the study said there is not yet enough clear evidence to recommend increasing coffee consumption to decrease risk of heart disease with the same strength and certainty as stopping smoking, losing weight, or exercising.

“While smoking, age, and high blood pressure are among the most well-known heart disease risk factors, unidentified risk factors for heart disease remain,” said David P Kao, MD, senior author of the study, assistant professor of cardiology and medical director at the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, Colorado.

“The risks and benefits of drinking coffee have been topics of ongoing scientific interest due to the popularity and frequency of consumption worldwide,” said Linda Van Horn, PhD, RD, professor and chief of the Department of Preventive Medicine’s nutrition division at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and member of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee. “Studies reporting associations with outcomes remain relatively limited due to inconsistencies in diet assessment and analytical methodologies, as well as inherent problems with self-reported dietary intake.”

Kao and colleagues used machine learning through the American Heart Association’s Precision Medicine Platform to examine data from three different studies. Each study included at least 10 years of follow-up, and, collectively, the studies provided information on more than 21,000 adults in the US.

In all three studies, people who reported drinking one or more cups of caffeinated coffee had an associated decreased long-term heart failure risk. In one, the Framingham Heart and the Cardiovascular Health study, the risk of heart failure fell by 5-12% per cup per day of coffee, compared with no coffee consumption. In another, the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, the risk of heart failure did not change between 0-1 cups per day of coffee but was about 30% lower in people who drank at least two cups a day.

“The association between caffeine and heart failure risk reduction was surprising,” said Kao. “Coffee and caffeine are often considered by the general population to be ‘bad’ for the heart because people associate them with palpitations and high blood pressure. The consistent relationship between increasing caffeine consumption and decreasing heart failure risk turns that assumption on its head.”

Although they were unable to prove causality, all 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.

The bottom line, the researchers say, is that we can enjoy coffee in moderation as part of an overall heart-healthy dietary pattern that meets recommendations for fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat/non-fat dairy products, and that also is low in sodium, saturated fat and added sugars.

This study was funded by the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

This content was originally published here.


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