Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages worldwide.  It’s hard to beat a good cup of coffee – especially as the weather begins to turn cooler.  But what about coffee consumption and heart health?  A meta-analysis (a quantitative, systematic study to assess results of previous research) of 36 long-term research studies was conducted to determine the relationship of long-term coffee consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease.  The combined participants in these studies were approximately 1.2 million and the average length of follow-up was ten years.  This meta-analysis found that drinking 3.5 cups of coffee per day (caffeinated or decaffeinated) was associated with a 15% lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to drinking no coffee (Ding, et al., 2014). 

A Swedish study followed a cohort of 1369 patients for eight years after being hospitalized for a first heart attack.  This study found that those who drank two or more cups of caffeinated coffee per day were 40% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those who drank none or only one cup of coffee per day (Mukamal, et al., 2009).   A more recent study of a cohort of 4365 Dutch patients who had a previous heart attack found that drinking coffee (either caffeinated or decaffeinated) was associated with a lower risk of death from both cardiovascular disease and ischemic heart disease (Dongen, et al., 2017).  

It is important to keep in mind that a standard cup of coffee is about six ounces.  A coffee mug can hold much more than six ounces of coffee.  In fact, some large mugs may be equivalent to two or more six-ounce cups of coffee.  Be sure to limit added sugars and creamers, as these can quickly add up in extra calories. 

It is also important to note that unfiltered coffee contains cafestol and kahweol.  These two compounds are associated with increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.  Cafestol and Kahweol are mostly removed when coffee is filtered with a paper filter (Du, et al., 2020).  

  While many studies have found an association between coffee consumption and reduced cardiovascular disease, this does not mean that consumption of coffee causes a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.  In other words, in research, association does not prove cause and effect.  In addition, individual sensitivity to caffeine can vary considerably.  It is especially important that individuals with a history of heart disease and those taking medications for heart disease alwayscheck with their physician before making significant changes in caffeine consumption.  

Sources:

Ding, M., Bhupathiraju, S. N., Satija, A., Van Dam, R. M., Hu, F. B. (2014).  Long-term coffee consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease.  Circulation, 129, 643-659. 

Dongen,  L. H., Mölenberg, F. JM., Soedamah-Muthu, S. S., Kromhout, D., Geleijnse, J. M. (2017).  Coffee consumption after myocardial infarction and risk of cardiovascular mortality: A prospective analysis in the Alpha Omega Cohort, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 106 (4), 1113–1120, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.117.153338

Du Y, Lv Y, Zha W, Hong X, Luo Q, (2020).  Effect of coffee consumption

on dyslipidemia:  A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.  Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.numecd.2020.08.017.

Mukamal KJ, Hallqvist J, Hammar N, et al. (2009).  Coffee consumption and mortality after acute myocardial infarction: The Stockholm Heart Epidemiology Program.  American Heart Journal, 157(3):495-501. doi:10.1016/j.ahj.2008.11.009

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