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My Coffee cup with Starbuck’s French Roast

Wow, am I relieved!

Coffee has a bad reputation when it comes to heart health, while tea is generally accorded special healing properties. We have good news for both coffee and tea drinkers: neither is bad for the heart.

Interest in the links between coffee and health is not new. In 17th-century Europe, coffee was thought to aid digestion and gout but cause impotence and paralysis — not a favorable trade-off, and also not correct. Today the coffee-health question focuses on the heart.

While some scientists have suggested that coffee might be bad for the heart, others (probably coffee drinkers) have repeatedly rebutted their findings. Among people who are not habitual coffee drinkers, the caffeine from two cups of coffee increases blood pressure by two to three mm Hg. This effect is short-lived and is usually absent among those who drink coffee regularly. Coffee can cause a temporary increase in heart rate, but it is an uncommon cause of abnormal heart rhythms. Boiled or unfiltered coffee contains oils that may increase total and LDL cholesterol levels, but these chemicals are removed by the filtering process, so most coffee has no effect on cholesterol. Finally, some studies suggest that coffee contributes to arterial stiffness. However, other research suggests that two cups of coffee per day actually causes arteries to relax.

In studying the health effects of coffee, cardiologists have focused on hypertension. Coffee does not cause high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure and you like coffee, you can continue to drink it. Turning to the heart, large studies demonstrate no increased risk of coronary heart disease among coffee drinkers, whether they prefer regular coffee or decaf. While we have no prospective, randomized comparative studies examining cardiac outcomes over 10 to 20 years among people assigned to drink coffee or another beverage, there is enough evidence for us to conclude that coffee does not cause heart disease and that it can be part of a heart-healthy diet.

Guess, I will celebrate with another cup!

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