Do you need a cup of coffee or two before you’re ready to start the day? New research indicates that it might not be the worst thing for your heart’s health.
The new study, presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions, provides data indicating that consuming the equivalent of two cups of coffee per day can boost the function of small blood vessels in healthy people and help reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
Effects on Blood Flow
According to the Los Angeles Times, scientists at the University of Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan recruited 27 adults between the ages of 22 and 30 for the study. None of the participants reported being regular coffee drinkers. Each participant was asked to drink one five ounce cup of coffee directly before having their vascular efficiency level (blood pressure and blood flow) measured. The coffee was caffeinated one day and decaf the other, and neither the participants nor the scientists were told which was which when taking the measurements.
By interrupting blood flow in the finger of participants for one minute and measuring how quickly normal blood returned, the researchers were able to determine that blood flow was 30% higher on the day they drank regular coffee than when they drank decaf.
“This gives us a clue about how coffee may help improve cardiovascular health,” Dr. Masato Tsutsui said in a statement from the American Heart Association. Tsutsui, who led the study, is a cardiologist and professor of pharmacology at the University of Ruikyus in Okinawa. He also indicated that if scientists are able to determine exactly how caffeinated coffee makes small blood vessels work more efficiently, “it could lead to a new treatment strategy for cardiovascular disease in the future.”
Before you drink that pot of coffee…
While this is further evidence of caffeine’s beneficial side effects, this doesn’t mean there are no negative side effects to consider. Aging adults in particular should limit how much caffeine they consume, as we tend to be more sensitive to its effects with age. Furthermore, caffeine can react with certain medications, including Echinacea and several antibiotics. Check with your doctor if you’re unsure about reactions between caffeine and any medications you’re taking.
For healthy adults, drinking four or more cups of coffee a day can lead to chronic restlessness, nervousness, insomnia, muscle tremors, accelerated heartbeat, irritability and upset stomach. Keep in mind that everyone reacts to caffeine differently, and research suggests that men are more sensitive to it than women. A cup or two a day can be a good thing, but if you’re experiencing any negative side effects, it may be time to curb the coffee habit.