Pouring a cup of coffee, which may benefit the heart, to a mug

Is Drinking Coffee Bad for the Heart? Debunking Myths

Is Drinking Coffee Bad for the Heart? Debunking Myths

Scientifically reviewed by: Michael A. Smith, MD

If you're a coffee lover but wondered if it's safe for your health, you'll perk up at this news! According to two studies presented at the American College of Cardiology's Scientific Session, drinking 2-3 cups of joe a day has been shown to benefit heart health.

Researchers looked at data from the UK Biobank of over 500,000 people who were followed for 10 years. The varied types of self-reported coffee enthusiasts were grouped by the amount of coffee they consumed—from 0 to 6 cups a day.

While the caffeine content in the go-to stimulant has been a cause of concern regarding cardiovascular health for many physicians, these new studies show coffee consumption is beneficial for a healthy heart.

"We found coffee drinking had either a neutral effect—meaning that it did no harm—or was associated with benefits to heart health," the authors reported.

Coffee & heart health benefits

The first study looked at 382,535 individuals without known heart conditions at baseline. The results showed that consuming 2-3 cups of coffee a day was associated with a 10 to 15 percent lower risk of developing a heart condition such as coronary heart disease, heart failure, a heart rhythm problem, or all-cause mortality. This study also showed the risk of stroke or heart-related death was lowest among individuals who consumed one cup of coffee a day.

The second study focused on data from 34,279 participants with some form of cardiovascular disease at baseline. The results held constant—an intake of 2-3 cups of coffee a day was also linked to a lower risk of dying of a heart condition than non-coffee drinkers.

The studies also revealed that consuming any amount of coffee was not associated with the development or worsening of the risk of heart rhythm problems, including atrial fibrillation. And regular coffee consumption was also associated with a lower risk of death for the 24,111 participants in the study who had arrhythmia at baseline.

Of course, this doesn't mean you have to add more coffee to your routine if you already enjoy a cup or two. But these studies are great news for benched coffee lovers who were hesitant about enjoying their mornings with a freshly brewed cup of tawny because of heart health concerns.

Is coffee heart-healthy?

Yes! The dark brown bean is packed with biologically active compounds, such as antioxidants and magnesium, that help protect the heart (and other) cells from oxidative stress and inflammation. That's why it can help reduce the risk of heart disease and other health concerns.

Coffee is an excellent source of antioxidants. And it's the free radical scavenger properties found in coffee beans' active compounds that make it a superb beverage choice for your mornings. Coffee consumption doesn't just help prevent heart disease; habitual coffee drinking can also confer protective effects on your teeth, give you an extra buzz for a workout, help keep blood sugar levels healthy, improve your mood, and more!

What does caffeine do to your heart?

Caffeine is one of the main compounds of those velvety-smelling coffee beans, and one of the reasons why the quick pick-me-up is a favorite choice among many of us. The stimulant promotes the release of hormones like norepinephrine that increase heart rate and blood pressure, causing the heart to contract with more force.

There's a reason energy drinks have caffeine; they boost your heart's contractions to get the blood flowing and your muscles going. What's more, caffeine also stimulates your brain and nervous system, helping you combat mental fatigue (so needed when working toward a looming deadline). It's the stimulating effects caffeine consumption can have on the heart that worried healthcare providers and consumers alike. But that's why it's imperative to consume coffee—and other caffeinated drinks—in moderate amounts.

Which type of coffee is best for the heart?

Whether you prefer a caffeinated or decaf cup of java, you still get heart-friendly benefits. But keep in mind that embellishing your black coffee's hint of bitter smoothness with colorful additives like creamers cancels out the health benefits, particularly if they're loaded with sugars and not so natural flavors.

Pro tip: Add a scoop of collagen to your coffee drink for extra benefits!

How to keep a healthy heart at all ages?

In addition to the light-to-moderate indulgence of your morning cup of joe, there are other ways to keep a healthy heart. Your daily habits—what you eat, how you sleep, how you manage stress, and how much you move—are also vital aspects of a healthy ticker.

Unsure where to begin? Here are five ways to keep your heart beating strong for years to come.

  1. Eat your way to a healthy heart

    —Don't be afraid to eat the rainbow (not Skittles). Choose dark leafy greens, colorful fruits and vegetables. These foods are loaded with nutrients like vitamins D and K, minerals, and more that are terrific for your heart. Pro tip: Adding probiotics to your meals helps support healthy blood pressure.
  2. Don't skip your sweat session

    —What's the best exercise for heart health, you ask? The kind that gets you breathing and sweating heavily. Think biking, swimming, dancing, or climbing. And you don't have to be a "gym rat" to reap the heart-healthy benefits of full-body movement. Just two and a half hours (150 minutes) a week is all it takes. Pro tip: Mix it up! Target and tone large muscle groups by adding strength and resistance training to your workout routine twice a week.
  3. Beauty sleep for your heart

    —Quality shuteye does wonders for your heart (and overall well-being) because while you slumber, your body releases hormones that help repair your cells. Plus, research shows that getting six to seven hours of restful sleep is associated with healthy blood pressure, a lower risk of heart arrhythmia and overall heart health.
  4. Targeted nutrients can help

    —Having a strategic nutritional plan can help you fill any dietary gaps you may experience. Speak with your doctor or nutritionist to find the nutrients that best support your pump muscle. Pro tip: Nutrients like CoQ10, magnesium, and fish oil do wonders for heart health.
  5. Look for more ways to be heart smart

    —You can learn more about your heart with well-documented resources. And remember to always talk to your doctor about your cardiovascular health.

References

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The Life Extension Health News team delivers accurate information about vitamins, nutrition and aging. Our stories rely on multiple, authoritative sources and experts. We keep our content accurate and trustworthy, by submitting it to a medical reviewer.