How Drinking Coffee Could Benefit Your Heart

If you're one of the 62% of Americans who drink coffee daily, as per the National Coffee Association, then you might have wondered whether it was doing you any good. While there are some people who are better off skipping the java due to pre-existing conditions, professor of nutrition Penny Kris-Etherton agrees that most adults can fit coffee into a healthy diet (via American Heart Association). 

Numerous studies have looked at the effects of coffee consumption, however a 2021 publication in the American Heart Association (AHA) journal Circulation: Heart Failure has found evidence that the beverage benefits heart health. The research analyzed three studies of cardiovascular disease, including the Framingham Heart Study which followed 5000 adults over 72 years. Patterns in the data were evaluated, and the findings indicated a reduced risk of heart failure with consumption of up to six cups daily. (The available data didn't allow for analyzing higher amounts.) This result is consistent with a 2014 meta-analysis in the American Journal of Epidemiology, which found a lower risk of heart disease among coffee drinkers compared with participants who abstained.

Laura Stevens, one of the researchers from the AHA study, explained to Time that although multiple risk factors were analyzed in relation to cardiovascular disease, coffee was consistently associated with a decrease in risk. Nevertheless, the researchers haven't yet identified a causation in the relationship, nor is it clear what elements of coffee are responsible. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food highlighted coffee's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may be a contributor to the heart benefits measured.

Is all coffee equally good for your heart?

Before you run off to the closest Starbucks and order a venti Frappuccino, keep in mind that the studies analyzed focused on black coffee, so adding extra sugar or creamer may not have similar results (via AHA). Surprisingly, decaf coffee was found to be associated with a higher risk of heart failure, suggesting caffeine's role in the positive effects noted (via Circulation: Heart Failure). Other factors that might affect the results of the study are the type of coffee machine used. According to the European Society of Cardiology, filter coffee offers more benefits and less risk of increased cholesterol compared to unfiltered coffee.

Ultimately, researchers pointed to a number of interrelated factors being responsible for the results. Among them, the senior author of the study Dr. David Kao remarked to the AHA that not smoking, weight loss, and exercise were all clearly associated with an increase in heart health. Coffee shouldn't be a replacement for other healthy lifestyle choices, nor should you start to consume it in excess hoping for additional advantages. All the same, you can comfortably enjoy a few cups of black coffee a day, knowing that your heart may thank you.