Drinking up to three cups of coffee a day can lower the risk of stroke and fatal heart disease, according to the largest-ever study of the popular beverage’s effect on health.
Participants in the study were divided into three groups based on their coffee intake. No coffee was consumed by 22%, light to moderate (half a cup to three cups a day) by 58%, and high (more than three cups a day) by 20%.
After adjusting for a range of other factors that could influence participants’ health, researchers found that light to moderate coffee consumption was associated with a 12% lower risk of death from any cause, 17% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and 21% lower risk of stroke.
Data for the study was collected from the UK Biobank – a biomedical database which holds genetic and health information on more than 460,000 participants.
Report author Dr Judit Simon, of the Heart and Vascular Centre at Semmelweis University in Budapest who presented the research at the European Society of Cardiology Congress, said: “To our knowledge, this is the largest study to systematically assess the cardiovascular effects of regular coffee consumption in a population without diagnosed heart disease.
“Our results suggest that regular coffee consumption is safe, as even high daily intake was not associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes and all-cause mortality after a follow-up of 10 to 15 years.
“Moreover, 0.5 to 3 cups of coffee per day was independently associated with lower risks of stroke, death from cardiovascular disease, and death from any cause.”
Researchers examined the link between coffee consumption and heart structure, using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.
Dr Simon said: “The imaging analysis indicated that compared with participants who did not drink coffee regularly, daily consumers had healthier sized and better functioning hearts.
“This was consistent with reversing the detrimental effects of ageing on the heart.”
The author concluded: “Our findings suggest that coffee consumption of up to three cups per day is associated with favourable cardiovascular outcomes. While further studies are needed to explain the underlying mechanisms, the observed benefits might be partly explained by positive alterations in cardiac structure and function.”
It follows a study published in June that founds drinking up to four cups of coffee a day can help reduce the risk of chronic liver disease.