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Too often we are told, as consumers, that whatever we eat or drink can have dire consequences. Coffee is one of those products that for some reason is always hovering around at the top of the things-that-are-likely-to-kill-you-early one week, then another study will dismiss that claim the following week. So, is coffee good for your heart?
Well, when a practicing cardiologist creates his own brand of coffee, I think it’s safe to assume it’s got to be good for the heart. Dr Jack Wolfson created Cardiology Coffee, after realising that most benefits of coffee are lost during processing. Not only that but pesticides are used to repel insects and prevent disease.
So what exactly are the benefits of drinking coffee?
Benefits of drinking coffee
Coffee is loaded with antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals so there is no doubt that therefore that coffee can be good for you and can even help you live longer. So what are the benefits of these nutrients?
- Antioxidants are more than just a modern-day buzz word used to entice you to buy something. Our bodies, through stress and environmental factors, produce ‘free-radicals’.
Free radicals are waste substances produced by our bodies cells as they process food and react to our environment. If our bodies cannot process and remove free radicals efficiently, it can harm our cells and body functions. Antioxidants prevent and slow damage caused by free-radicals.
- Polyphenols are a plant compound that, if consumed regularly, is thought to boost brain health and digestion as well as protect against heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even certain cancers.
Polyphenols act as antioxidants and are thought to reduce inflammation which is one root cause of many chronic illnesses.
- Vitamins and minerals, which may come as a surprise to some, are also found in coffee. Vitamins such as riboflavin (Vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3) as well as minerals such as magnesium and potassium. All essential to a healthy functioning body.
Does coffee prevent heart attacks?
Consuming a moderate amount of coffee has the potential to lower the risk of clogged arteries. Clogged arteries can lead to a heart attack. A study of more than 25000 young healthy adults was carried out in Korea, comparing those who drank coffee to those who did not drink coffee.
The study run by Dr Eliseo Guallar, an epidemiologist at John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, found that participants who drank three to five cups of coffee a day had a lower risk of developing calcium deposits clogging their coronary arteries. Clogged arteries are one of the precursors to heart disease.
Guallar and his colleagues at the Kangbuk Samsung Hospital in Seoul, South Korea put the participants through routine examinations. They had no signs of heart disease, with the average age of 41 at the start of the study. Questionnaires were completed about their eating and drinking habits, and they underwent computed tomography (CT) scans to determine their levels of coronary artery calcium (CAC). Guallar said, ‘You can have this disease for many years without symptoms’, he told Life Science, but went on to say, ‘Now with this new technique, we can know if people have the disease way before they have the symptoms.’
The researchers compared the amount of coffee consumption to their levels of CAC. They also factored in physical activity, BMI, how much fruit, vegetables and red meat they ate, and smoking. The average coffee consumption was 1.8 cups a day, and 13.4% of all the participants had detectable levels of CAC. Those who drank between three to five coffees a day had approximately 40% less calcium in their arteries than those who drank no coffee. Those who drank between one and three cups of coffee a day had 35% less calcium than those who did not drink coffee.
The study did not distinguish between caffeinated and decaf coffee, and while scientists are not entirely sure how coffee may lower the risk of heart disease, it is thought it may be down to the levels of antioxidants in coffee.
How many cups of coffee a day is healthy?
Following on from the research undertaken by Dr Eliseo Guallar, it seems that any coffee is better than no coffee when you are considering how many cups of coffee is heart-healthy. However, the research does suggest that drinking three to five coffees per day will have the most benefit on your heart, by reducing clogging of your arteries by up to 40%.
Can you drink coffee with heart problems?
As you read further and further into this article you will begin to realise that our idea of coffee being a guilty pleasure is anything but. Indeed, the media has played the coffee-is-bad-for-you card so many times that we really don’t know what to think. But it turns out that even a person with heart disease can drink coffee.
But our data suggest that daily coffee intake shouldn’t be discouraged, but rather included as a part of a healthy diet for people with and without heart disease. We found coffee drinking had either a neutral effect—meaning that it did no harm—or was associated with benefits to heart health.”
Kistler and his team carried out three studies using data from the UK BioBank, a large-scale prospective database with health information from over half a million people who were followed for at least ten years. Coffee drinking was assessed from the questionnaires completed upon entry into the registry.
Of the three studies undertaken, the second study included 34279 participants who had some form of cardiovascular disease. It was found that consuming two to three cups of coffee a day was associated with lower odds od dying compared with having no coffee. Also, consuming any amount of coffee was not associated with a higher risk of heart rhythm problems, including atrial fibrillation or arterial flutter, which Kistler said clinicians were often concerned about. Of the 24111 people included in the analysis who experienced arrhythmia at baseline, drinking coffee was associated with a lower risk of death.
To answer the question, ‘Can a person with heart disease drink coffee?’, it seems the answer is a definite yes.
What do cardiologists say about coffee?
If you have managed to keep with me through this article (I know it is a lot to take in), you will have come to the conclusion that cardiologists have nothing but positive things to say about the drinking coffee.
Not only has Dr Jack Wolfson, a practicing cardiologist, branded his on coffee, Cardiology Coffee, but we have other professionals in the field stating not only is coffee good for you, it seems to be better than not drinking coffee at all.
Peter M. Kistler, MD, professor and head of arrhythmia research at the Alfred Hospital and Baker Heart Institute in Melbourne, Australia has carried out thorough research with his team that suggests that as well as coffee consumption staving off heart disease, it can also be used as part of a healthy diet if the individual already has heart disease.
In addition, Dr Eliseo Guallar, an epidemiologist (also known as disease detectives) at John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, found that the consumption of between three to five cups of coffee a day had approximately 40% less calcium deposits or clogging of arteries than those who did not consume coffee.
I think it is fairly safe to say that we can stop thinking of coffee as something bad. Of course, too much of a good thing can have consequences (like caffeine headaches). Most of the studies that have been carried out would suggest that a healthy daily coffee intake should be three to five cups a day.
What do doctors say about coffee?
As Peter M. Kistler has pointed out, you may receive general medical advice to stop drinking coffee. This is because of the quickening of the heart rate that some may worry could trigger worsening heart issues. But he continues to say that coffee drinking shouldn’t be discontinued, but should rather be encouraged as part of a healthy diet for people with and without the disease.
Does coffee boost the immune system?
In much the same way that the antioxidants, polyphenols, Ethylamine and other vitamins and minerals present in coffee aid in heart health, so too do they help in boosting your immunity. Our immunity is under daily attack from modern life. Poor immunity can be exacerbated by a range of factors including stress, lack of exercise, environment, medications and a poor diet. As much as coffee can benefit your heart, it can bolster your immune system too. However, as with most things in life, everything in moderation. Too much coffee has the potential to influence sleep patterns, and cause headaches if you have been drinking too much of the stuff.
Which coffee is good for your heart?
A general sweeping statement would be that all coffee is good for you with a few provisos.
Most studies undertaken have not distinguished between caffeinated and decaf, in Peter M. Kistler’s third study he stated that Decaf coffee did not have favourable effects against incident arrhythmia but did reduce cardiovascular disease, with the exception of heart failure. Kistler said the findings suggest caffeinated coffee is preferable across the board, and there are no cardiovascular benefits to choosing decaf over caffeinated coffees.
Most coffees are treated with pesticides and insecticides which can find its way into your brew eventually. To ensure that you are buying coffee unaffected by pesticidal treatment you will need to start looking at organically grown coffee.
Some coffees when produced can be subjected to mycotoxin. As the name would suggest, mycotoxin is a toxic product of mold that can form on coffee bean before and after harvest. The only way to prevent inadvertently ingesting mycotoxin is to buy a coffee brand that actively assesses their coffee for the presence of the toxin.
Coffee tends to retain most of its essential goodness when in bean form. For ease of use, we tend to buy coffee already ground, or grind down our favourite bean ready for use later. However, to make the most out of coffee we should only be grinding it just before use.
Fresh produce decays when exposed to air. Oxygen turns freshly cut bananas brown within a few minutes, potatoes turn brown when peeled and left out. Coffee oxidizes and becomes stale, losing its oils, flavors, and phytonutrient content due to decay. Keeping it in bean form until ready to use helps slow the oxidation process and keep all of those quality flavors and heart healthy nutrients locked within the bean until use.
What is Cardiology Coffee?
Simply put, Cardiology Coffee is coffee without all the bad stuff added. Now at this point you may be asking what bad stuff can be found in coffee.
Insecticides: Unfortunately, coffee is the most expensive crop compared to others, and farmers will do what they can to reduce the risk of damaged coffee beans, which will damage their revenue. To ensure they continue to produce a crop untouched by pests, farmers treat their coffee plantations with insecticides. These insecticides can end up in the end product, your coffee.
Mycotoxin: Coffee beans can be susceptible to the growth of molds before and after harvest, often under warm, damp and humid conditions. Some of these molds naturally produce a toxic substance called mycotoxin. Most mycotoxins can survive food processing.
Cardiology Coffee is organically grown, so there is no risk of pesticides associated with its consumption. In addition, Cardiology Coffee is also tested for toxins such as mycotoxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other contaminants. You know that when purchasing coffee beans from Cardiology Coffee, it will be as nature intended.
Is drinking coffee good for heart health?
There is a lot to be said for a good cup of coffee. Not only can it wake you up in the morning, but it can have the potential to decrease your risk of heart disease, and bolster your immunity while doing so. As with everything in life, moderation is key, and try to steer away from non-organic if you are concerned about the pollutants that you may already be consuming. Most of all, relax and enjoy, knowing that it is probably doing a lot more good than harm.
If you want to take coffee that bit further, and look at the introduction of CBD as an additional health benefit, read this article.