Can't live with out your morning cup of joe? A new study suggests that moderate coffee drinking could just save your life.
The research, which was published in a recent issue of the journal Heart, evaluated more than 25,000 male and female employees who underwent routine health checks at their workplace and found that those who drank three to five cups of coffee each day had a reduced risk of clogged arteries and heart attacks.
The study looked at the association between coffee consumption and coronary artery calcium deposits, the clogging of arteries also known as CAC. Clogged arteries are an early indicator of cardiovascular disease, which can cause a heart attack.
The research team from Kangbuk Samsung Hospital in Seoul analyzed participants' dietary habits using a food frequency questionnaire and performed CT scans on each participant to assess their levels of coronary artery calcium. The average age of the participants was 41.
Prior to the study, none of the participants had any physical symptoms of heart disease. But using the scans, researchers found that about one in 10 had visible calcium deposits. When researchers compared these scan results with each participant's self-reported coffee consumption, they found that those who drank a few cups of coffee a day were less likely to have calcium deposits in their coronary arteries than participants who drank much more coffee or no coffee at all.
Coffee drinking appeared to have a protective effect for heart health — but only up to a point. Researchers found the lowest levels of calcium ratios, 0.59, in the participants who drank three to five cups of coffee per day. Those who drank less than one cup of coffee a day had calcium ratios of 0.77 and one to three cup drinkers were at 0.66. But more is not always better. Those who drank more than five cups of coffee a day were found to have a calcium ratio of 0.81.
While more research is needed to better understand these results, the study's authors say the link between coffee consumption and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes may explain the beverage's protective effect for the heart.
It's unlikely that your doctor will be prescribing coffee anytime soon. But the takeaway from this study is that if you do enjoy having a few cups of coffee each day, you probably can relax and enjoy your java knowing that it might just be helping your heart.
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