Grab a cup of heart-friendly coffee

Jenny Decker RN's picture
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Exciting news is coming from San Francisco where the American Heart Association is holding its annual conference. Several studies are showing possible benefits from drinking coffee, as well as pointing researchers in directions that were thought to be unhealthy effects from caffeine. Go grab a cup of heart friendly coffee and come read all about it.

According to WebMD, one of the several myths about caffeine is that it has no health benefits. Some of these benefits include improved alertness, concentration, and increased energy. Other possible benefits are still yet to be linked in research. Research is going on though, and the results are very interesting. In one study presented at the AHA conference, it was found that coffee drinkers may have a lower risk of abnormal heart rhythms. Another shows that having a couple cups of coffee does not increase the risk of atherosclerosis. More exciting yet, there may be something in coffee that reduces the risk for diabetes in women by almost 50%.

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At this point, it is not known why drinking coffee may reduce the likelihood of abnormal heart rhythms. The American Heart Association is not ready to tell people they should drink coffee to avoid abnormal rhythms. Don’t expect it any time soon, either. There are many more years of studies ahead before any of that will change. This story is yet to be told.

Researchers looking at the risk of atherosclerosis followed more than 3,000 men and women for 20 years. They were unable to find any association between consuming coffee and atherosclerosis. The amazing part about this study is that this lack of association was shown to be across demographic groups. So it was the same for men and women, blacks and whites, and smokers and nonsmokers. The study included those that did not drink any coffee to those who drank more than four cups a day. In a prepared statement, lead researcher Jared Reis, an epidemiologist with the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute states, “Based on these data, there does not appear to be any substantial association between coffee drinking and increased or decreased odds of developing atherosclerosis or its progression over time.”

In another study, it was found that women who drank coffee were almost 50 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. In this particular research, 359 post menopausal women who were newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and359 women without type 2 diabetes were compared. Those drinking four or more cups of coffee per day had a 56 percent lower risk of developing diabetes than those who drank no coffee at all. It is believed that this reduced risk is due to caffeine effects on a specific protein that binds to sex hormones. Report presenter Dr. Atsushi Goto of the University of California , Los Angeles adds that “the finding is preliminary and requires further study.”

Although not good news, the study showing links between hypertension and caffeine intake indicate that there is only a moderate association between increased risk of hypertension. The research team studied the effects of consuming from one to three cups of coffee a day. The significance of this data is that it was gathered from six studies that included more than 172,000 participants. Dr. Liwei Chen, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Louisiana State University School of Public Health tells Palm Beach Post, “We definitely need more research and evidence to clarify our findings based on the meta-analysis of published prospective studies. Meanwhile, I think it is important for people to consider lowering their coffee drinking if they are concerned about their blood pressure.”

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