Good news, coffee lovers: Your daily cup of Joe might be doing good by your heart, namely by helping to reduce the risk of heart failure, suggests the findings of a new study.
In an analysis of data from three large studies on the topic, researchers found that overall, those who reported drinking one or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day had “an associated decreased long-term heart failure risk,” they said.
For the report, published in Circulation: Heart Failure, an American Heart Association journal on Tuesday, researchers used machine learning to examine data from a large study from the Framingham Heart Study, referencing this data against two other studies, the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study and the Cardiovascular Health Study, according to a news release on the findings.
“Each study included at least 10 years of follow-up, and, collectively, the studies provided information on more than 21,000 U.S. adult participants,” researchers said.
When analyzing the Framingham Heart and the Cardiovascular Health studies, researchers noted that when compared to non-coffee drinkers, the risk of heart failure decreased by 5% to 12% for each cup they drank each day. As for the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, researchers noted that those who drank at least two cups of java per day had a 30% lower risk of heart failure, while the risk of heart failure remained the same for those who drank only one cup or drank no cups of coffee per day.
As for decaffeinated coffee, researchers noted that this beverage did not have the same benefits as caffeinated coffee, with one study suggesting that decaffeinated coffee has an opposite effect, possibly increasing the risk of heart failure.
Dr. David P. Kao, senior study author and assistant professor of cardiology and medical director at the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine called the results of the team’s metanalysis “surprising.”
“The association between caffeine and heart failure risk reduction was surprising. Coffee and caffeine are often considered by the general population to be ‘bad’ for the heart because people associate them with palpitations, high blood pressure, etc. The consistent relationship between increasing caffeine consumption and decreasing heart failure risk turns that assumption on its head,” Kao said in a statement.
“However, there is not yet enough clear evidence to recommend increasing coffee consumption to decrease [the] risk of heart disease with the same strength and certainty as stopping smoking, losing weight, or exercising,” he noted.
The researchers also cautioned that the findings only focused on black coffee.
“While unable to prove causality, it is intriguing that these 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 such as cream,” said Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D.N., immediate past chairperson of the American Heart Association’s Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Council Leadership Committee. Kris-Etherton is also an Evan Pugh University professor of nutritional sciences and distinguished professor of nutrition at The Pennsylvania State University, College of Health and Human Development in University Park.
“The bottom line: 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,” she added. “Also, it is important to be mindful that caffeine is a stimulant and consuming too much may be problematic — causing jitteriness and sleep problems.”