Enjoy Your Coffee It’s Actually Good For You
New research confirms lower risk of heart disease and death for coffee drinkers
New research pours more evidence into a percolating pot of proof that coffee appears to be quite good for most of us. Data from 468,629 people in the U.K. across several years revealed that up to three cups of caffeinated coffee per day is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and death compared to no coffee, and even more daily intake doesn’t pack any serious health risks.
Several other studies in recent years have reached similar conclusions, showing that coffee offers some protective effects and few if any serious side effects beyond jitteriness and insomnia in some folks.
The new study, which like much research linking the consumption of food and drinks to health outcomes, cannot prove cause-and-effect. It’s possible that coffee drinkers do other things that promote health, though the study controlled for factors like smoking, physical activity, and broader health status.
“Our results suggest that regular coffee consumption is safe, as even high daily intake was not associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes and all-cause mortality after a follow-up of 10 to 15 years,” says study leader Judit Simon, MD, a researcher in the Heart and Vascular Center at Hungary’s Semmelweis University. “Moreover, 0.5 to 3 cups of coffee per day was independently associated with lower risks of stroke, death from cardiovascular disease, and death from any cause.”
Better functioning hearts
The study analyzed coffee consumption and health outcomes across 11 years, on average, for people in midlife. Compared to people who don’t drink coffee, those who drank 0.5 to 3 cups per day had a 17% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, a 21% lower risk of stroke, and a 12% lower risk of death by all causes.
The researchers then used MRIs to compare the hearts of people who did and did not drink coffee.
“The imaging analysis indicated that compared with participants who did not drink coffee regularly, daily consumers had healthier sized and better functioning hearts,” Simon says in a statement. “This was consistent with reversing the detrimental effects of aging on the heart.”
The research, presented yesterday at a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology, has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, so the conclusions should be considered preliminary. But they are no surprise. Science has been waking up to the apparent benefits of coffee in a big way lately.
A study earlier this year found one or more daily cups of coffee can reduce the risk of heart failure. Another one found several daily cups of coffee was associated with a 16% lower risk of death from prostate cancer. Scientists now say that some older research, which suggested coffee might be bad for us, failed to take into account whether people smoked or boozed it up.
Other research has found people who drink four or more cups a day are less likely to be depressed.
Antioxidants likely play a role
This shifting view of coffee’s benefits was in full swing two years ago, when a large study debunked the notion that coffee stiffens arteries. Researchers now say coffee is packed with antioxidants that have been linked to better health by protecting cells against damage.
Yes, coffee can cause nervousness, irritability, irregular heartbeats and insomnia in some people — a reminder that nothing we put in our bodies works the same for everyone, so if you have any questions about your own coffee intake, you should consult a healthcare professional. I’m not offering any advice here. But if coffee doesn’t cause you any problems, the experts largely agree the research is clear: A few cups a day is unlikely to be bad for you, and it’s probably good for you.
I hope so, since I downed my fourth and fifth cups of the day while writing this story.