It’s well-understood that coffee is good for the soul – a welcome companion to add some get-up-and-go to any morning (or afternoon!) Less known, however, might be coffee’s unique impacts beyond that burst of joy and energy.
In fact, coffee is associated with a reduced risk of multiple cancers and chronic diseases, including liver and endometrial cancers and heart disease. That’s right, coffee is good for the heart and the soul! And there’s no better time than American Heart Month to celebrate all the ways coffee supports heart health.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans. In 2020, nearly 700,000 people in the United States died from heart disease, and every year more than 800,000 suffer heart attacks.
While there are countless, complex factors that determine an individual’s risk for heart disease, common risk factors include diabetes, high weight and/or obesity, poor diet, and a sedentary lifestyle. The federal government has identified combatting risk factors like type 2 diabetes, obesity, and hypertension as top health priorities.
A large body of scientific evidence gives reason to think coffee can help. Dating back to at least 2008, large, high-quality studies have consistently shown that drinking up to 6 cups of coffee per day is associated with a significantly decreased incidence of high blood pressure for those who don’t already have it.
Other studies show that drinking coffee is associated with well-functioning metabolisms and can help people maintain a healthy weight, even those with genetic predispositions toward obesity.
A 2020 study found that participants who drank 4 cups of coffee per day showed a loss of fat mass and reduced levels of excreted creatinine- a hormone which if found to be excreted at high levels can be an indicator of diabetes.
Just last year, a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that decaffeinated, ground, and instant coffee, particularly at 2–3 cups per day, were all associated with significant reductions in incident cardiovascular disease and mortality.
One study published in the American Heart Association’s Stroke journal found that drinking just one cup of coffee per week reduced the risk of death (from any cause) by 14%, and the protective effect was particularly pronounced in heart attack survivors. Coffee drinkers who previously survived a heart attack were 22% less likely to die prematurely.
Some researchers have even concluded that coffee can help heal a broken heart – a protein found in coffee promotes heart cell health and can help protect cells from dying after a heart attack. The same study also notes that coffee consumption resulted in improved cardiovascular function in elderly populations and concludes that coffee could serve as an additional protective dietary factor for older people.
If that weren’t enough, coffee can also help support heart health by contributing to other healthy habits like exercise. For example, coffee consumption can help improve performance and endurance as well as help muscles recover more efficiently.
In short, your morning coffee (or coffees, if you’re anything like me) is doing a lot more than making the work day more enjoyable. It’s working to keep your heart healthy and your body moving. If that isn’t a good reason to love your brew even more, I don’t know what is.