This Is The Best Coffee Habit For Your Heart, New Study Says
Coffee lovers, rejoice! According to new research (which is believed to be the largest study to date on this topic), drinking up to three cups of coffee each day has been shown to promote cardiovascular health, as well as increase life expectancy.
Investigators gathered the data of more than 468,600 adults who had not been diagnosed with heart disease. After filling out a questionnaire regarding their health and coffee consumption habits, the volunteers were placed into one of three groups—non-coffee drinkers, light-to-moderate coffee drinkers (less than three cups per day), and those who drank a significant amount of coffee a day (more than three cups).
After a follow-up period of 11 years, the medical researchers from England and Budapest analyzed the MRI scans of 30,650 participants in order to get a full assessment of how coffee drinking habits may affect the anatomy and functioning of the heart. Their findings, which were published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, revealed that:
- Light-to-moderate coffee consumption was associated with a 12% lower risk of overall mortality compared to non-coffee drinkers.
- Light-to-moderate coffee consumption was also linked with a 17% lower risk of death caused by cardiovascular diseases compared to those who didn't drink coffee
- Drinking between one-half and three cups of coffee a day was associated with a 21% reduced risk of stroke
Interestingly, decaf coffee was also associated with reduced all-cause mortality risk while heart-related benefits and extended longevity were not shown among the adults who drank regular instant coffee.
"It's also important to highlight that even for those who were heavy coffee drinkers, we did not find evidence of negative cardiovascular consequences," said Dr. Pál Maurovich-Horvat, who supervised the study, in a press release. "However, there were no positive health benefits observed in this group, as in the group of the light-to-moderate drinkers."
Mandy Enright, MS, RDN, RYT, is not surprised by these latest findings.
"Coffee contains high amounts of antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory benefits that can help reduce risk of heart disease when consumed in moderation," she tells Eat This, Not That!. "However, instant coffee can lose a lot of these antioxidants during processing, which is why drinking ground coffee has better benefits."
Since all coffee drinks are not created equal, Enright offers a few heart-healthy suggestions when brewing or ordering your next cup of joe. Keep reading for her top five tips.
For starters, keep your coffee beans plain.
"Opt for unflavored coffee beans and add your own flavors, such as from ground cocoa powder or cinnamon," says Enright.
Pour the "right" milk into your cup.
"Choose a nutritious option, such as low-fat or nonfat dairy, soy milk or oat milk as opposed to cream, which is a source of saturated fat," says Enright.
If you like a little sweetness, sprinkle in a natural alternative. "Use sugar sparingly or use sweeteners, such as stevia or monk fruit, where a little goes a long way."
When ordering, go small.
If you're indulging in a fancy coffee shop beverage, Enright recommends ordering the smallest size and nixing the syrups. "These are often sources of added sugars," she states.
Related: The Best Coffee Shop in Every State
Be mindful about when you drink java.
"Caffeine can be an appetite suppressant, which can often lead to increased hunger later in the day, so aim to drink coffee with meals," continues Enright. Also, keep in mind that full-octane coffee and stress may not be the most pleasant combo. "Drinking coffee when you're feeling anxious may cause an upset stomach and increased stress levels."
Try not to overdo it.
"The current [FDA] dietary guidelines suggest Americans should consume no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, which equates to about four cups of coffee or two Starbucks grande size coffees," adds Enright.
For more on coffee, check out Is Coffee Just as Healthy as Tea?