People who drink between three and five cups of coffee a day could be reducing their risk of a heart attack, as they are less likely to develop clogged arteries, according to a new study.
Though there has been much debate around effects of excessive coffee drinking on cardiovascular health, the study found that coffee consumption could be “inversely associated” with the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Researchers led by the Kangbuck Samsung Hospital in Seoul, South Korea, focused on the association between coffee and coronary artery calcium (CAC), which is an early indicator of the potentially serious condition coronary atherosclerosis. The condition sees arteries become clogged up by fatty substances called plaques or atheroma. It can cause a heart attack or a stroke when the arteries become hardened or narrowed, leading to blood clots, which can then trigger the potentially deadly attacks.
Researchers studied a group of more than 25,000 Korean men and women with no signs of heart disease and an average age of 41.
Five third wave coffees to know
Five third wave coffees to know
1/5 Long black
Espresso and hot water, simple. A stronger, shorter Americano. A coffee for purists who want to savour it. Water first, espresso second. Always. The drink retains more of the crema than an Americano, is less voluminous and more strongly flavoured. An antipodean classic taking UK menus by storm.
Who drinks it: The café purist
Coming from the Italian for restricted, forcing less hot water through the coffee granules at a faster speed makes for a very short shot – typically 45ml for a double compared to 60ml for the same espresso. Say hello to a coffee with more flavour and less bitterness. A pain to make on pre-calibrated machines, it's "a fusspot's coffee," says Kamal Yusuf of Etcetera Café in London.
Who drinks it: The nuisance
Originally from Italy, this one gets the thumbs down from many third wave baristas. Pulling more hot water through the bed of espresso – a minute's worth, rather than 30 seconds – gives a longer coffee, typically 90–120 ml. But, some say, the grains are overused and the bitterness is drawn out. "If someone asked for one, I'd tend to put a touch of hot water in the bottom of an espresso shot instead," says Estelle.
Who drinks it: The poseur
Consists of two shots of espresso 'cut' (cortado is Spanish for cut) through with textured milk. The ratio of milk to coffee is between 1:1 and 1:2 (our diagram has 1:2), with the milk added after the espresso. Also known as a piccolo and – less commonly – a Gibraltar. "They're normally served in a 4oz glass. Like a mini strong latte," says Estelle Bright of Caravan in London.
Who drinks it: The trend-setter
5/5 Flat white
It's the coffee that started it all. Soon after the flat white came to these shores from its native New Zealand, it found its way on to the menus of the big chains from Pret a Manger to M&S. But its pleasingly simple blend of foamed milk and a double shot of espresso, sees it hold its place as the third wavers' favourite coffee. Shorter than a latte, with higher coffee to milk ratio, typically served in a small 150–160 millilitre ceramic cup.
Who drinks it: The blogger
They found the prevalence of detectable CAC was 13.4% amongst the whole group while the average amount of coffee drunk was 1.8 cups per day.
Their findings showed the calcium ratios were 0.77 for people who had less than one cup per day, 0.66 for those having one to three cups every day, 0.59 for those consuming three to five cups per day, and 0.81 for people having at least five cups or more every day compared with non-coffee drinkers.
The U-shaped findings meant that those who drank one to three coffees a day had the second least prevalence of arteries that had clogged up.
The findings were published in the online journal Heart, where the authors stated: “Our study adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that coffee consumption might be inversely associated with cardiovascular disease risk.
“Further research is warranted to confirm our finding and establish the biological basis of coffee’s potential preventative effects on coronary artery disease.”
The research appears to support the findings of a 2012 set of studies, which the NHS said suggested that, “compared to no coffee consumption, four to five servings of coffee a day was associated with an 11 per cent lower risk (of heart failure),” while “drinking excessive amounts of coffee had no benefit – and is likely to give you the jitters,” though the health service said information should be viewed with caution.
In response to the current study, Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: “While this study does highlight a potential link between coffee consumption and lower risk of developing clogged arteries, more research is needed to confirm these findings and understand what the reason is for the association.
”We need to take care when generalising these results because it is based on the South Korean population, who have a different diet and lifestyle."
Additional reporting by PAReuse content