Is Coffee Really Good For You?

cardiology healthy living Apr 04, 2024
Is Coffee Good For You?

Is Coffee Good For You?

I think I would absolutely die without coffee. I had to try and stop coffee once because of acid reflux. I tried for just 6 weeks. It was incredibly hard. I ended up going back to it.

Everyone in the world is generally pretty addicted to coffee, but what does the research say? Is it actually good for us?


Is Coffee Really Good For Your Heart?

What are the effects of coffee on cardiovascular health and outcomes?

It’s complicated.

Very complicated. Don’t worry, it won’t be as bad as the fish oil discussion post.



Does Coffee Raise Your Blood Pressure?

One of the most important cardiovascular risk factors is blood pressure. Good blood pressure control improves cardiovascular outcomes. Higher blood pressure leads to more heart attacks and more strokes. So does coffee improve hypertension?

Coffee can raise your blood pressure transiently. It’s not permanent. Studies have shown that a moderate consumption of coffee is associated with less risk of hypertension but mainly in those who never smoked or do not currently smoke and in those who are fast metabolizers of caffeine.


Does Coffee Affect Your Cholesterol And Lipids?

It depends!

Boiled coffee is atherogenic because of its rich diterpene content, namely cafestol and kahweol, that inhibits bile acid synthesis and ultimately affects lipid metabolism in a negative way.

On the other hand, paper filter filtered coffee, which is does not contain cafestol and kahweol, exerts antiatherogenic protective properties by increasing high density lipoprotein–mediated cholesterol efflux from macrophages through the influence of plasma phenolic acid. So, cholesterol levels are influenced by the method coffee preparation (boiled vs filtered). In the US, most people use filtered coffee, so it should be ok. But there is obviously a growing trend towards espresso and French press coffee.

Another study of a green roasted coffee blend found that 3 servings a day decreases leptin, tPA, resistin, glucose levels, insulin resistance, and triglyceride levels. This was even more profound in the group that had higher cholesterol to begin with. There appears to be a beneficial effect of green/roasted coffee blends.


Coffee And Heart Disease?

What about the risk of developing cardiovascular disease? Studies are inconsistent with regard to coffee consumption and risk of coronary heart disease. A lot of it depends on sex, genetics, and smoking status.

Most of the studies showed a J-shape association in which moderate coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to heavy coffee consumption which was associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. These findings point to the importance of moderate coffee consumption because of the potential risk of cardiovascular disease.


What About Coffee And Heart Failure?

The results appear to be consistent across studies. The FHS, CHS, and ARIC studies showed that high coffee intake was associated with a decrease in long-term risk of heart failure independent of sex, baseline history of myocardial infarction, and diabetes. Because of the lack of understanding of potential mechanisms behind reduction in heart failure risk, more studies are needed.


Coffee And Atrial Fibrillation And Heart Rhythm Disturbance?

What about atrial fibrillation and other tachyarrhythmias? Can coffee make your heart race?


Moderate coffee consumption was found to reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation, possibly owing to its strong anti-inflammatory components such as cafestol, polyphenol, trigonelline, chlorogenic acid, and quinide.

However, energy drinks and pre-workout that may include 300mg of caffeine per serving can trigger many tachyarrhythmias like atrial fibrillation and supraventricular tachycardia (SVT). Not everyone will get them. You must have the underlying problem to begin with, but they may uncover them or trigger them.

So coffee appears to help most forms of cardiovascular disease, what about other disease and overall mortality?


Does Coffee Reduce All Cause Death Rates And Mortality?

Coffee does have cardiovascular benefits, but does it reduce all-cause mortality or is it just cardiovascular death rates?

In a large meta-analysis, coffee was shown to reduce all-cause mortality by 17%, cardiovascular mortality by 19%, overall cardiovascular disease by 15%, and cancer incidence by 18%.



Does Coffee Reduce Stroke Rates?

I get this question quite a bit. People think that coffee can increase heart rates and blood pressure, so they assume that this will increase stroke rates. The opposite is the case.

In a large meta-analysis, coffee consumption has been shown to reduce relative stroke rates by 18% in men and 19% in women. This is true even in those consuming 3-4 cups per day.



Does Coffee Cause Weight Loss?

If you read my weight loss book, Actual Weight Loss, you already know the answer. But yes, coffee generally has positive effects on body composition, weight loss, fat loss, and BMI.

In multiple large meta-analysis, coffee has been shown to help with fat loss and actually helps improve insulin sensitivity.



Does Coffee Cause Dementia Or Improve Brain Function?

Coffee has also been shown to help with alertness and neurocognitive function. People probably already know this because they "can't function" without their daily coffee fix.



Does Coffee Help With Muscle Building Or Athletic Performance?

Coffee has also been used as an ergogenic agent to help improve exercise and muscle building. In fact, most “pre workout” drinks contain a lot of caffeine.



Can Coffee Reduce Chronic Illnesses And Disease?

Coffee has been shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's, liver disease, and cardiovascular disease. Several studies indicate a connection between moderate coffee consumption and a decreased risk of chronic disease.


Coffee Reduces Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

A meta-analysis suggests that coffee consumption may have a dose-dependent protective effect against type 2 diabetes. 

Coffee contains a complex mixture of compounds, including chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and other polyphenols, that may act together to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. Studies suggest that higher coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and this protective effect seems to increase with the amount of coffee consumed. Researchers believe these compounds in coffee may reduce inflammation, protect insulin-producing cells, and improve the body's ability to use sugar efficiently.



Coffee Reduces Risk Of Parkinson's Disease

Caffeine appears to be the driving force behind coffee's potential protection against Parkinson's disease. Caffeine may help regulate dopamine levels and improve overall brain function, reducing the risk of developing this neurodegenerative condition. Additionally, the antioxidant properties of coffee may protect neurons and support healthy brain signaling, further contributing to its protective role against Parkinson's.



Does Coffee Improve Liver Function?

The liver plays a crucial role in metabolizing toxins and filtering our blood. Research suggests that coffee may have a protective effect on the liver, possibly reducing the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer. The antioxidants found in coffee can help neutralize free radicals that damage liver cells, and other compounds may also suppress inflammation and fibrosis (scarring) in the liver.



Does Coffee Help With Heart Failure Or Stroke? 

Moderate coffee consumption may offer some protection against heart failure and stroke. While the exact mechanisms are still being investigated, the antioxidants and potential anti-inflammatory properties of coffee appear to play a role. Coffee may help improve blood vessel health, reduce chronic inflammation, and potentially stabilize blood sugar levels, all of which could contribute to better cardiovascular health.



Anti-Oxidants In Coffee

Coffee is a powerhouse of antioxidants, particularly polyphenols like chlorogenic acids. These antioxidants can counteract the harmful effects of free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage cells and contribute to various chronic diseases. The antioxidant properties of coffee may help protect against conditions like cancer, heart disease, and premature aging. Additionally, coffee possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce chronic inflammation linked to many health issues.



Does Coffee Improve Alertness, Mood, And Brain Function?

Caffeine, the most well-known stimulant in coffee, can enhance alertness, concentration, and improve mood by increasing the activity of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Research suggests that regular coffee consumption might support cognitive function, potentially reducing the risk of cognitive decline associated with aging and conditions like Alzheimer's disease. Additionally, some studies point to a potential link between moderate coffee intake and a decreased risk of depression, possibly due to both the effects of caffeine and the antioxidant properties of coffee. (,


Coffee And Cardiovascular Disease Mortality?

Studies have shown moderate coffee consumption to be associated with a reduction in all-cause and cardiovascular disease related mortality, whereas higher amounts of coffee consumption were detrimental to health.


Confusing, isn’t it? Rarely is anything in medicine black or white. Whenever you hear someone online say that “coffee is good for your heart” in absolute terms, please buy them a copy of this book. The same goes for fish oil and almost any other topic.

I could make a lot of money selling you “cardiology coffee”, but I am not here to cherry pick studies and lie to you.

It’s just complicated with a lot of nuances.


My Final Thoughts: Is Coffee Good For Your Health?

My take is that it’s ok to drink a cup or two a day of coffee. Some studies have shown optimal benefit between 3 to 4 cups per day. Even decaffeinated coffee appears to confer the same benefits, in most cases.

It appears that paper filter filtered coffee is better than just boiled, unfiltered coffee. If you have issues with heart racing, atrial fibrillation, SVT, or anything with your heart rhythm, you might not want to drink more than 2-3 cups per day. If you have high cholesterol, filtered and green/roasted blends may be better for you. Your mileage may vary, try it and see.

A very well-done research review from 2023 is a great place to get more information on coffee and heart disease. But my summary above is their overall conclusion. But they have great references and more detail. 


Did You Like This Article?

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