New analysis of one of the largest and longest-running studies in the U.S. links drinking coffee to a lower risk of heart failure, stroke, and coronary heart disease.
The preliminary research was presented yesterday at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in Anaheim, California.
This exciting discovery was almost accidental: Scientists from the University of Colorado medical school analyzed data from the Framingham Heart Study, which has tracked the eating habits and cardiovascular health of more than 15,000 people since the 1940s, looking for previously unidentified risk factors for heart failure and stroke. They used a method known as machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence that identifies patterns in big data sets (similar to how shopping sites suggest new items based on past purchases).
According to Time, “Out of all the potential links to heart disease the researchers considered, one stood out after the analysis.”
Per their findings, coffee was associated with a reduced risk for heart failure, stroke, and coronary heart disease. While just one cup can have a positive effect, research showed that the potential benefits are cumulative. Every 8-ounce serving of coffee consumed per day reduced the risk of these conditions by 7%, 8%, and 5%, respectively — up to at least six cups per day. (Because 97% of the coffee drinkers in the study consumed between one and six cups a day, researchers can’t know for sure if the benefits continue at even higher consumption levels.)
While the research is still preliminary and is not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal, it is supported by overwhelming evidence supporting coffee’s potential cardiovascular health benefits. The exact mechanism is not yet proven, but scientists believe that it’s likely the result of coffee’s natural caffeine, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties.