Conflicting research studies — combined with conflicting media reports — often make truth difficult to ascertain. One issue that has been hotly debated is whether drinking coffee is bad for cardiovascular health.

Several studies have claimed that coffee causes harm to the arteries. To be more specific, these studies have suggested that drinking large amounts of coffee contributes to aortic stiffness. If the aorta becomes less flexible, it would increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Other studies have claimed that drinking several cups of coffee each day can help protect the body from arteriosclerosis, the buildup of plaque inside the arteries. Since arteriosclerosis can interfere with proper blood flow, and lead to a cardiovascular event, these studies suggest that drinking coffee can reduce the risk of such an event.

So what is the truth? Is coffee bad for the heart or good for the heart? New research by scientists from the Queen Mary University of London, in the United Kingdom, systematically studied one of the major controversies regarding the effect of coffee on heart health: the effect of coffee on aortic stiffness. In the process, they showed that the claims found in previous studies suggesting a negative effect on vascular health were false.

The research team began their study by analyzing data from approximately 8500 participants involved in the U.K. Biobank Imaging Study. None of the participants had cardiovascular disease when the study began. Further, all participants agreed to undergo cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging, along with other specialized cardiovascular assessments, which allowed the researchers to determine the health of the participant’s cardiovascular function.

The participants also reported how much coffee they drank daily. The researchers then divided the participants into three groups:

  1. People who drank at most one cup of coffee per day.
  2. People who drank between 1 and 3 cups of coffee per day.
  3. People who drank between 3 and 25 cups of coffee per day. (The average number of cups of coffee consumed by members of this group was 5 cups per day.)

When the researchers compared measurements of arterial stiffness between the three groups, they were unable to find any statistically significant differences. Drinking even relatively large amounts of coffee does not have a negative effect on arterial health, and in particular on aortic stiffness.

The results of the study took into account a wide variety of factors that could contribute arterial stiffness: age, ethnicity, smoking status, alcohol intake, height, weight, high blood pressure, eating habits, cholesterol, and diabetes.

Although not every issue regarding coffee’s effect on heart health was resolved by this study, at least one important issue was laid to rest. In the words of Dr. Metin Avkiran, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, who was not involved with this study, “Understanding the impact that coffee has on our heart and circulatory system is something that researchers and the media have had brewing for some time. There are several conflicting studies saying different things about coffee, and it can be difficult to filter what we should believe and what we shouldn’t. This research will hopefully put some of the media reports in perspective, as it rules out one of the potential detrimental effects of coffee on our arteries.”

At Beacon of LIFE, a government-approved PACE program in Oceanport, NJ, we pay close attention to nutrition news, and incorporates the most current knowledge into our menus. Our mission is to provide seniors, their family, caregivers and professional health care providers the flexibility to meet their health care needs while continuing to live in their community.

Beacon of LIFE maintains an interdisciplinary team of professionals who give each client the coordinated care they need. Our staff specialize in working with older people, and work with each client and their family to develop the most effective plan of care.

We provide a variety of services, including primary care, hospital care, medical specialty services, prescription drugs, nursing home care, emergency services, home care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, adult day care, recreational therapy, meals, dentistry, nutritional counseling, social services, laboratory / X-ray services, social work counseling, and transportation.

Our care and services allow people who would otherwise need to live in a nursing home to live where they want — in their own communities, in their own homes.

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