The latest research on coffee and cardiovascular health

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This year, several new studies have been published on coffee and cardiovascular health, which add to the already large body of scientific research on this topic built up over many years.

Here, the Institute of Scientific Information of Coffee summarises some of the studies published in 2013, a full list of which can be found in the Latest Research section.   Conclusions are then discussed based on the overall body of evidence concerning coffee consumption and cardiovascular health.

Coffee consumption and cardiovascular health
A new review paper examines the body of research on coffee consumption and cardiovascular risk and concludes that, for most healthy people, moderate coffee consumption is unlikely to adversely affect cardiovascular health1.

Coffee consumption and sudden cardiac death in women
Research suggests that caffeine, regular coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and regular tea intake were not associated with the risk of sudden cardiac death in women2.

Coffee consumption and arterial stiffness in Japanese men
A study in Japanese men found coffee consumption to be inversely associated with arterial stiffness independent of known atherosclerotic risk factors, and this association was partly mediated by reduced circulating triglycerides3.

Coffee consumption and the risk of stroke
A new study suggests that higher green tea and coffee consumption is inversely associated with risk of CVD and stroke in the general population4.

Filtered coffee consumption and  cholesterol levels
New research suggests that moderate consumption of paper-filtered coffee may have an unfavourable effect on plasma cholesterol and inflammation biomarkers in healthy individuals regardless of its antioxidant content5Previous trials on filtered coffee have demonstrated virtually no effect on serum cholesterol.

Caffeine consumption and atrial fibrillation
A new review paper concludes that caffeine consumption is not associated with increased risk of atrial fibrillation and caffeine consumption at low levels may offer a small protective effect6.

Coffee consumption and endothelial function
A study of elderly inhabitants of the Greek island of Ikaria found that consumption of boiled Greek-type of coffee was associated with improved endothelial function, providing a new connection between nutrition and vascular health7 

Coffee consumption and cardiovascular mortality

A number of studies have been published this year, investigating habitual coffee consumption in relation to  both cardiovascular and all-cause mortality:

  • One study8 found a 21% increased mortality rate in those drinking more than 28 cups of coffee a week, with a greater than 50% increased mortality risk in both men and women younger than 55 years of age. However, they did not find any significant effects on cardiovascular mortality, irrespective of age group or level of consumption.
  • However, these results are not supported by recent data from a meta-analysis and systematic review9. The meta-analysis assessed 23 studies and concluded that coffee consumption is, on the contrary, inversely related to the risk of mortality from all causes.
  • Furthermore, a review paper10 suggests that coffee consumption may reduce the risks of type 2 diabetes and hypertension, however it may also raise cholesterol levels depending on brewing method.
  • Another study11 examined regular and decaffeinated tea and coffee consumption in relation to all-cause, vascular and non-vascular mortality. Coffee consumption was inversely associated with all-cause mortality. Caffeinated coffee was inversely associated with all-cause mortality, driven by a strong protection among those who drank more than 4 cups per day.

Conclusion

Overall, the body of evidence suggests that moderate habitual coffee consumption is not associated with detrimental effects on cardiovascular health. Extensive research has also been devoted to investigating associations between coffee consumption and key risk factors for cardiovascular disease:

  • Blood pressure: most evidence suggests that regular moderate consumption of caffeinated coffee has no long term effect on blood pressure and does not increase the risk of hypertension.
  • Cholesterol: coffee may have an impact on cholesterol, but this is dependent on the brewing method. Unfiltered coffee raises serum cholesterol levels; this is not the case with filtered coffee because the cholesterol-raising compounds in coffee, e.g. cafestol and kahweol, are retained in the paper filter. Content of the cholesterol-raising compounds in soluble coffee is negligible. Moderate consumption of espresso also has negligible effects as levels of cafestol are lower than in unflitered coffee and serving sizes are small.

“In our studies, consumption up to 6 cups of coffee per day didn’t show an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. From this, I would conclude that, in healthy people, moderate coffee consumption does not appear to increase the risk of cardiovascular [disease]. Furthermore, our research suggests that, among those who already have a cardiovascular event or are diabetic, moderate consumption of coffee doesn’t increase the risk of having a second cardiovascular event12.”

Dr. Esther Lopez-Garcia

 

References

1 Rebello S.A. & van Dam R.M. (2013) Coffee Consumption and Cardiovascular Health: Getting to the Heart of the Matter. Current Cardiology Reports, 15:403.
2 Bertola M.L. et al. (2013) Long-term alcohol and caffeine intake and risk of sudden cardiac death in women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97(6):1356.
3 Uemura H. et al. (2013) Consumption of coffee, not green tea, is inversely associated with arterial stiffness in Japanese men. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, published online ahead of print.
4 Kokubo Y. et al. (2013) The Impact of Green Tea and Coffee Consumption on the Reduced Risk of Stroke Incidence in Japanese Population: The Japan Public Health Center-Based Study Cohort. Stroke, published online ahead of print.
5 Correa T.A.F. et al. (2013) Paper filtered coffee increases cholesterol and inflammation biomarkers independent of roasting degree. Nutrition, 29(7-8):977-81.
6 Caldeira D. et al. (2013) Caffeine does not increase the risk of atrial fibrillation: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Heart, Volume 99: 1383-1389.
7 G Siasos et al. (2013) Consumption of boiled Greek type of coffee is associated with improved endothelial function: The Ikaria Study. Vascular Medicine, published online ahead of print.
8 Liu J. et al. (2013) Association of coffee consumption with all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, published online ahead of print.
9 Malerba S. et al. (2013) A meta-analysis of prospective studies of coffee consumption and mortality for all causes, cancers and cardiovascular disease. European Journal of Epidemiology, 28(7):527-539.
10 O’Keefe J.H. et al. 2013, Effects of Habitual coffee consumption on cardiometabolic disease, cardiovascular health, and all-cause mortality. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Accepted Manuscript published online ahead of print.
11 Gardener H. et al. (2013). Coffee and tea consumption are inversely associated with mortality in a multiethnic urban population. The Journal of Nutrition, 143(8):1299-308.
12 http://coffeeandhealth.preview.uk.com/vodcast/vodcast/

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