Coffee, Coffee, Good for the Heart?
It’s a debate that has been going on for what feels like forever – is coffee good or bad for you?
Unfortunately, the answers isn’t as clear cut as you might have thought; there has yet to be any conclusive evidence to support one side more than the other.
However, a new study from an international team of researchers in South Korea may have just given coffee supporters some more ammo to support their cause.
The study, led by Kangbuk Samsung Hospital in Seoul, involved more than 25,000 people, with an average age of 41. All of the study participants undergo routine health checks at their workplace, and none of them showed outward signs of heart disease.
During the participants’ medical scans, the team checked specifically for coronary artery calcium, also known as CAC. This is a calcium build-up in the arteries that supply the heart that could lead to the narrowing or hardening of these arteries, which in turn can cause heart attack- and stroke-triggering blood clots.
The researchers analysed the participants’ results, taking into account other risk factors, such as family history, smoking and exercise. It was found that just over one in ten of those involved in the study had visible calcium deposits in their medical scans.
The participants were then asked to estimate how many cups of coffee they drank a day. This information was compared with the scans to see if there was any link – of course, taking into account the other risk factors.
The results showed a sort of “U”-turn. In those who drank between three and five cups of coffee a day, a lower calcium build-up could be seen than in those who drank less or more than this amount.
Moreover, this association between calcium build up and coffee consumption could be found across many different groups, whether defined by age, gender, whether or not they smoked, how much alcohol they consume, etc.
There is a possible explanation for this link, according to the study authors. This lies in a HSPH report (Harvard School of Public Health) that indicates towards a connection between long-time coffee consumption and a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Either way, the latest findings, which have been published in BMJ‘s Heart journal, have reopened the popular debate about whether or not coffee is actually good for the heart.
“Our study adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that coffee consumption might be inversely associated with [cardiovascular disease],” said the study authors.
However, they by no means assume that their research is conclusive and have agreed that more research is needed on the subject.
And while the British Heart Foundation have welcomed the research, they believe the results to be rather generalised. This is because they focus on one area, South Korea, where the people have different diets and lifestyles to those in the UK.
“This study does highlight a potential link between coffee consumption and lower risk of developing clogged arteries,” explained Senior Dietician Victoria Taylor. “More research is needed to confirm these findings and understand what the reason is for the association.”
One thing we can take away from this study is that there certainly seems to be a “just right” amount of coffee we should be consuming – not too much, not too little.
If you’d like to find out more about how coffee can be good for you, why not check out this fun and informative video: