Drinking at least 1 cup of coffee a day may prevent heart failure

  • Coffee could help prevent heart failure, if you drink at least a cup a day, new research found. 
  • Additional cups of coffee had even more benefits.
  • Decaf coffee wasn’t linked to benefits, and was even associated with higher risk of heart failure. 
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Science is once again supporting the health benefits of your daily coffee fix.

Drinking at least one cup of coffee a day could reduce your risk of heart failure, and more coffee is linked with even lower risk, according to a study published February 9 in Circulation: Heart Failure, a journal of the American Heart Association. 

Researchers looked at data from three studies, including 21,000 adult participants over at least 10 years of follow up. They found that each cup of caffeinated coffee participants drank a day was linked to 5% to 12% lower risk of heart failure, compared to participants who didn’t drink coffee. That was true for up to three cups of coffee a day, the research found. 

Decaf coffee wasn’t linked to the same benefits and in fact, one study found that it was linked to a higher risk of heart failure. 

That suggests caffeine is at least partially responsible for the health benefits of coffee, according to Dr. David Kao, senior author of the study and assistant professor of cardiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

“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,” Kao said in a press release.

Read more: Coffee drinkers have stronger bones than people who don’t sip a daily brew, according to a new study

The research isn’t convincing enough yet to recommend that people who don’t drink coffee should start, based on the health benefits, the study authors concluded. Particularly for heart health, the best advice is still to exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and avoid smoking, Kao said in the press release.

If you do drink coffee, black is best

It’s not yet clear how much coffee is best for health benefits — one limitation of this study is that it relied on self-reported data, with no clear definition of how much coffee people were consuming per cup. Researchers also didn’t collect data on the coffee brewing method; previous research has found methods like filter brewing may be healthier than stovetop or French press preparations. 

What we do know is that many of the benefits of coffee are linked to drinking it plain. Coffee in the form of sugary blended drinks or rich lattes are often loaded with sugar and saturated fat. Those additives could increase the risk of heart disease, mitigating the benefits of the coffee. 

“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 or non-fat dairy products, and that also is low in sodium, saturated fat and added sugars,” Penny Kris-Etherton, a registered dietitian-nutritionist and professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University who was not involved in the study, said in the press release.

Coffee is linked to health benefits like a longer life and better health as you age

This study adds to a growing body of evidence that regularly drinking coffee could improve heart health and stave off premature death. It could also help promote weight loss, prevent cognitive decline as we age, and provide some protection against other chronic illnesses like liver disease and several types of cancer. 

In addition to the caffeine, coffee also contains beneficial plant compounds called polyphenols, which are linked to antioxidant and inflammation-reducing effects.

We also know from previous studies that coffee is safe, and drinking it doesn’t seem to have any long-term side effects, especially if you only drink up to five cups a day. 

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