Coffee: It's about moderation - your heart will thank you

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  • The pros and cons of coffee consumption have been widely debated
  • New research highlights how drinking too much coffee can be harmful
  • More than six cups a day can significantly increase your risk for developing heart disease 


There are conflicting views around how coffee consumption can affect our overall health, with some compelling research on how it may be beneficial – and an equal amount of research suggesting otherwise.

Health24 recently reported that coffee consumption can lower the risk of heart failure, but a more recent study suggests drinking too much of this popular caffeinated drink may have unfavourable results.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of South Australia, is the world’s first genetic study to find that long-term excessive coffee consumption can increase the amount of lipids (fats) in one’s blood, and ultimately increase our risk for cardiovascular disease.

Elements in coffee can raise cholesterol

“In this study we looked at genetic and phenotypic associations between coffee intake and plasma lipid profiles – the cholesterols and fats in your blood – finding causal evidence that habitual coffee consumption contributes to an adverse lipid profile, which can increase your risk of heart disease,” said affiliated researcher, Professor Elina Hyppönen.

In order to reach this conclusion, the researchers looked at data retrieved from UK Biobank that included information from 362 571 participants. They studied the data using a combination of genetic and phenotypic methods of analysis.

“In this study we looked at genetic and phenotypic associations between coffee intake and plasma lipid profiles – the cholesterols and fats in your blood – finding causal evidence that habitual coffee consumption contributes to an adverse lipid profile which can increase your risk of heart disease,” Professor Hyppönen said.

“High levels of blood lipids are a known risk factor for heart disease, and interestingly, as coffee beans contain a very potent cholesterol-elevating compound (cafestol), it was valuable to examine them together.”

Choose filtered coffee 

The researchers explained that this cholesterol-elevating compound is mainly present in unfiltered coffee brews – but it can also be found in lattes and cappuccinos – and suggested that coffee lovers opt for filtered coffees and try to limit their consumption. 

“With coffee being close to the heart for many people, it's always going to be a controversial subject,” Professor Hyppönen stated.

“Our research shows, excess coffee is clearly not good for cardiovascular health, which certainly has implications for those already at risk. Of course, unless we know otherwise, the well-worn adage usually fares well – everything in moderation – when it comes to health.”

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