New Study Finds How Drinking 2 To 3 Cups Of Coffee Is Linked To Heart Benefits And Mortality

The Haiger

A new study claims that there may be a number of benefits to both heart-health and mortality for those that drink all types of coffee, and not just regular ground – including instant and decaf coffee too.

Published on September 27 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, the findings explain how drinking two to three cups of coffee every day is associated with ‘equivalent reductions in the incidence of cardiovascular disease and death from cardiovascular disease or any cause,’ explains study author Peter Kistler, MBBS, PhD, who also happens to be the head of clinical electrophysiology research at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia. He explained in a press release, “The results suggest that mild to moderate intake of ground, instant, and decaffeinated coffee should be considered part of a healthy lifestyle.”

For most people, this is wonderful news considering around 3 out of 5 Americans drink coffee every single day. Moreover, the average coffee drinker has just over 3 cups per day, says the National Coffee Association.

Looking At Coffee Drinking Habits of Almost Half a Million People

The main purpose of this study was to look at how drinking different types of coffee influences heart health, such as incident arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, ischemic stroke, coronary heart disease, and overall survival.

Researchers took data from the UK Biobank, which happens to be an international health resource that collects blood, urine, and saliva samples alongside other detailed health information, for the purpose of research on a large range of illnesses from over a half-million people aged 40 to 70 years old in England, Wales, and Scotland over the years 2006 to 2010.

This particular study included a total of 449,563 individuals with an average age of 58 years old. 55.3 percent of them were women. Those included in the trial were participants that were free of arrhythmias or other cardiovascular diseases at baseline.

They were made to complete a questionnaire, which asked them how many cups of coffee they drank every day, and whether they drank instant, ground – like filtered coffee or cappuccinos, or decaffeinated coffee.

Depending on their responses, each participant was grouped into one of six daily intake categories, which consisted of 0, less than 1, 1, 2 to 3, 4 to 5, and more than 5 cups of coffee a day.

For this study, the most popular type of coffee was instant, which was consumed by 198,062 participants or 44.1 percent. Next was ground coffee, at 82,575 participants or 18.4 percent, and lastly decaffeinated coffee, which was 68,416 participants or 15.2 percent. As for the other 100,512 participants or 22.4 percent, they were non-coffee drinks who were the comparator group.

The study looked at the coffee drinkers in comparison to the non-coffee drinkers looking for incidence of cardiovascular disease, arrhythmias, and death after they controlled a number of factors such as age, sex, obesity, ethnicity, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking status, obstructive sleep apnea, and coffee and tea consumption. This outcome information was taken from their medical and death records.

Finding That Those Who Drank Any Type of Coffee Had Decreased Death Risk

What the authors saw were several benefits among the participants who drank coffee. They are as follows:

  • During the follow up at 12.5 years, they saw that 27,809 (6.2 percent) or participants had died. All types of coffee was associated with lowered death from any cause, while the greatest risk reduction was seen in those that drank 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day as compared to those that didn’t drink coffee at all, which was ‘14 percent, 27 percent, and 11 percent lower likelihood of death for decaffeinated, ground, and instant preparations, respectively.’
  • 43,173 (9.6 percent) of participants were diagnosed with cardiovascular disease during the follow up. All coffee subtypes were linked with a reduction in cardiovascular disease incidents, again with the lowest amongst those that drank 2 to 3 cups a day as compared to the “no coffee” group, which was associated with ‘6 percent, 20 percent, and 9 percent reduced likelihood of cardiovascular disease for decaffeinated, ground, and instant coffee, respectively.’
  • 30,100 (6.7 percent) participants were diagnosed with arrhythmia during the follow up. As for those associated with a reduction in arrhythmias as atrial fibrillation, it was only for ground and instant coffee, but not decaffeinated. As compared to non-coffee drinkers, the lowest risk were seen in the group that drank ‘4 to 5 cups a day for ground coffee and 2 to 3 cups a day for instant coffee, with 17 percent and 12 percent reduced risks, respectively.’

Considering there are a bunch of recent studies that support the heart health benefits of coffee, these findings aren’t necessarily surprising, explains cardiologist and assistant professor in the division of cardiovascular medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Jim Liu, MD. Although he wasn’t part of the study, he shares, “However, I was surprised to see caffeinated coffee was associated with reduced arrhythmia. This goes against the traditional notion that coffee, as a stimulant, can cause palpitations and arrhythmias.”

Liu also points out that it’s important to remember that the study excluded patients that already had existing cardiovascular disease or arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation, so the results don’t necessarily apply to all the patient population.

Moreover, the study is quite big, and it’s also just observational, which means that the findings don’t necessarily prove that drinking coffee is what actually caused the participants to have heart and longevity benefits. The research also adds to growing evidence that suggests how coffee consumption may have a ‘protective effect on the heart.’ There was another large meta-analysis of 21 studies that saw how moderate coffee drinking was linked to lower risk of coronary heart disease in women.

Coffee Has More Than 100 Biologically Active Components

Some may find it quite surprising that even for those that drank the “unleaded” variety of coffee managed to experience less heart disease and early death, but coffee happens to be more than just a food that contains caffeine. Dr. Kistler shares, “Caffeine is the most well-known constituent in coffee, but the beverage contains more than 100 biologically active components. It is likely that the noncaffeinated compounds were responsible for the positive relationships observed between coffee drinking, cardiovascular disease, and survival.”

Researchers Say That Drinking Coffee Shouldn’t Be Discouraged

Kistler adds, “Our findings indicate that drinking modest amounts of coffee of all types should not be discouraged but can be enjoyed as a heart-healthy behavior.”

Aside from heart health, there is also evidence that shares how drinking coffee regularly may help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes and melanoma, while also having protective benefits for the liver and brain.

But Dr. Liu also shares that whether or not drinking coffee is a health choice for someone truly depends on the individual. He says, “Drinking coffee in low to moderate amounts has generally been shown to be safe and does not carry any major long-term cardiovascular health effects. However, if someone is drinking excessive amounts or to the point that they are feeling poorly from bothersome palpitations, sleep deprivation, or other adverse effect, then it would probably be best to cut back.”

Moreover, Liu also shares that because coffee is a stimulant, it also has short term effects on the heart like increased blood pressure and increased palpitations.

“Long term, chronic caffeine use may slightly increase blood pressure, but for the most part, caffeine consumption has not been shown to have any major long-term adverse effects to cardiovascular health as long as it’s used in small to moderate amounts,” he adds.

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