Experts have been digging into the drink’s possible connection to heart disease.
A few sips into your morning Starbucks order, you can already feel the buzzing effects. You might feel more alert, energetic, and euphoric, and some people even report feeling their heart pitter-pattering faster than usual. Sure, your morning latte feels good, but is that stimulating effect good or bad for your ticker?
As with many things, moderation is key. (It’s cliche for a reason, right?). There’s a big difference between starting your day with a cappuccino and guzzling a cuppa joe an hour during your eight-hour office stint. “Coffee to a point can be okay,” says Satjit Bhusri, MD, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital. “Too much coffee can lead to over-activity [or] over-stimulation of your heart, causing it to work harder than it needs to work.”
An espresso with your breakfast can slightly increase your pulse temporarily, but it probably won’t lead to heart disease, according to Paul Knoepflmacher, MD, a clinical instructor in medicine at The Mount Sinai Hospital. “In most cases, coffee doesn’t really raise your blood pressure,” says Knoepflmacher. “Unless you’re drinking massive amounts, a normal amount of coffee [or tea] doesn’t have a negative effect.”
So what’s safe? The American Heart Association suggests that a moderate amount of coffee—one to two cups a day—does not have a negative effect on on your risk of heart disease. (Here are symptoms of heart disease to be aware of.)
This is not a one-size-fits-all recommendation, however. “For some people, they’re more caffeine-sensitive than others and they just feel anxious or [like] they have an elevated heart rate after having caffeine,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, a nutritionist in New York City. Cutting back or switching to decaf coffee may help.
A moderate amount of coffee can even have some benefits. “There have been some studies that show that a modest intake of coffee and caffeine can actually be heart-healthy,” says Dr. Knoepflmacher. A 2015 study of more than 25,000 young and middle-aged adults found that those who drank one to five cups of coffee a day actually had the lowest prevalence of coronary artery calcium buildup, which can be an early sign of heart disease. Those who drank fewer than one cup or more than five cups daily were more likely to have calcium on the walls of their arteries, regardless of age, sex, or whether they smoked or drank alcohol.
One main reason for coffee’s health benefits? Its antioxidants. These nutrients may provide some protection against damage to your body’s cells, and coffee happens to be one of the most potent sources of antioxidants in the average American’s diet, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (You can also find antioxidants in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts.)
But, truth time: what you add to your coffee also matters. Saturated fat, found in heavy creams and whole milk, can raise levels of bad cholesterol and sneak in extra calories. Stick to low-fat or soy milk (or go milk-free) to keep your drink friendly to your arteries. Sprinkling in multiple sugar packets per cup isn’t doing your heart any favors either. Here are more tips for brewing healthier coffee.
A final word of caution: Because coffee is a mild diuretic, which means it can slightly increase your need to urinate, drinking nothing but coffee all day can put you at risk of dehydration. (Here are symptoms of dehydration to look out for.) “My rule to my patients is, ‘For every cup of coffee you drink, chase that with the same cup of water,’” says Dr. Bhusri.
Not sure if your coffee-drinking habits would get the stamp of approval? Look for these signs of coffee overload.
Dr. Bhusri is an attending cardiologist at the Lenox Hill Heart & Vascular Institute and an assistant professor of cardiology at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine.Paul Knoepflmacher
Dr. Knoepflmacher is a clinical instructor of medicine at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, where he also maintains a private practice.Frances Largeman-Roth
Frances Largeman-Roth is a nutritionist and cookbook author in New York City.
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There are a lot of studies on coffee
in terms of benefits and harms,
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as it is with caffeine.
00:00:07,290 --> 00:00:10,579
So we have to dissect out
what is really in coffee.
00:00:10,579 --> 00:00:16,244
00:00:16,244 --> 00:00:19,970
So coffee to a point can be okay.
00:00:19,970 --> 00:00:22,610
But too much coffee, again, in moderation.
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Too much coffee can lead to overactivity
of your heart, overstimulation of your
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heart, causing it to work harder than it
needs to work for that amount of time.
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In most cases coffee doesn't
really raise your blood pressure.
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It can do it slightly, and
it can certainly raise your pulse.
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But in terms of coffee intake, unless
you're drinking massive amounts, a normal
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amount of coffee, several cups a day or
of tea, doesn't have a negative effect.
00:00:46,500 --> 00:00:50,433
In fact, it actually may have some
positive effect because of its antioxidant
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And there's been some studies that show
that a modest intake of coffee and
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caffeine, it can actually
be heart healthy.
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So if you wanna consume
one to two cups a day,
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that would be an eight ounce cup
of coffee, that's absolutely fine.
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But for some people, they're more caffeine
sensitive than others and they just feel
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anxious or they feel like they have an
elevated heart rate after having caffeine.
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Maybe you need to cut back,
maybe it's not for you.
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Some people find that as they age,
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they cannot tolerate caffeine like
they did when they were younger.
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So it's It's just something
to keep an eye on,
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but there is no link between
heart disease and caffeine.
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It's okay to drink tea,
it's okay to drink coffee.
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My rule to my patients is, for
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every cup of coffee you drink,
chase that with the same cup of water.
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So two cups of water for
every cup of coffee.
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You wanna keep a positive fluid
balance for several reasons.
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One is dehydration causes strain and
stress on your muscle, and
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dehydration is bad for your mental health.
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Antioxidants - protecting healthy cells. Chicago, IL: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2014. (Accessed on February 12, 2018 at http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/antioxidants.)
Benefits of java. Chicago, IL: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2014. (Accessed on February 12, 2018 at http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/wellness/preventing-illness/benefits-of-java.)
Caffeine and heart disease. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association, 2015. (Accessed on February 12, 2018 at http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Caffeine-and-Heart-Disease_UCM_305888_Article.jsp#.WoG0DKinEdU.)
Choi Y, Chang Y, Ryu S, et al. Coffee consumption and coronary artery calcium in young and middle-aged asymptomatic adults. Heart. Published online on March 2, 2015. (Accessed on February 12, 2018 at http://heart.bmj.com/content/early/2015/02/06/heartjnl-2014-306663.)
Sofi F, Conti AA, Gori AM, Luisi MLE, Casini A, Abbate R, Gensini GF. Coffee consumption and risk of coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2007 Mar;17(3):209-23.
Volkow ND, Wang GJ, Logan J, Alexoff D, Fowler JS, Thanos PK, et al. Caffeine increases striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptor availability in the human brain. Transl Psychiatry. 2015 Apr;5(4).