Drinking one or more cups of plain, black coffee a day has been associated with a long-term reduced risk of heart failure, according to three major studies from the American Heart Association (AHA).
Heart failure occurs when a weakened heart fails to supply the body’s cells with enough blood to get the oxygen needed to keep the body functioning properly. People with heart failure suffer fatigue and shortness of breath and have trouble walking, climbing stairs or other daily activities.
“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 experts.
The study, which began in 1948, enrolled over 5,000 people with no diagnosed heart disease who lived in Massachusetts, US. The study has followed those people and their offspring for 72 years over three generations.
Altogether, the studies provided dietary information on more than 21,000 adult Americans.
Compared with people who didn’t drink coffee, the analysis found the risk of heart failure over time decreased between 5 percent and 12 percent for each cup of coffee consumed each day in the study.
The risk of heart failure remained the same for drinking no coffee or one cup per day, according to another study. But when people drank two or more cups of black coffee a day the risk decreased by about 30 percent, the analysis found.
“The association between caffeine and heart failure risk reduction was surprising,” said senior author Dr. David Kao, medical director of the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine at US.
“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,” Mr. Kao said in a statement.
Be a little cautious
All of these studies were done with drinking black coffee. However, many people add dairy, sugars, flavors or non dairy creamers that are high in calories, added sugar and fat. That likely negates any heart-healthy benefits, warns the AHA. Also, the benefit did not extend to decaffeinated coffee. Instead, the analysis found an association between decaf coffee and an increased risk for heart failure.
Also be aware that in most studies a cup of coffee is only 8 ounces while the standard cup at the coffee shop is double that at 16 ounces.
Who should stay away from coffee?
Caffeine can be dangerous if consumed in excess by certain populations, research has shown. High levels of coffee consumption (more than 4 cups) during pregnancy was associated with low birth weight, preterm birth and stillbirths in a 2017 study. For women with a higher likelihood of bone fractures, coffee raised that risk though the same was not true for men.
Past studies also suggested people with sleep issues or uncontrolled diabetes should check with a doctor before adding caffeine to their diets.
And, of course, these benefits do not apply to kids. Children and adolescents should not drink colas, coffees, energy drinks or other beverages with any amount of caffeine, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.