While most people are addicted to coffee and can’t stop the adrenaline rush that gives you a drink of their favorite version – black, espresso, or latte, new research has shown that too much coffee can damage your heart health.
In the first genetic study, researchers from the Australian Center for Precision Health at the University of South Australia found that long-term, heavy consumption of coffee – six or more cups a day – could increase the amount of lipids in your blood to significantly increase your risk cardiovascular (CVD).
Most importantly, this combination is dependent and dose-dependent, which means that the more you drink coffee, the greater the risk of CVD.
It is a bitter pill, especially for coffee lovers, but according to UniSA researcher Professor Elina Hypponen, it is the one we must swallow if we want to keep our hearts healthy.
“There is certainly a lot of scientific debate about the pros and cons of coffee, but while it may seem like we are passing through the old world, it is important to fully understand how one of the world’s most popular drinks can affect our health,” said Professor Hypponen.
“In this study we looked at the genetic and phenotypic relationship between coffee-eating profiles and plasma lipid profiles – cholesterol and fats on your side to find evidence that regular coffee consumption contributes to a negative profile that may increase the risk of heart disease,” adds Professor Hypponen.
Professor Hypponen also noted, “High blood lipids are a serious risk factor for heart disease, and interestingly, since coffee beans contain a very high cholesterol-containing substance (cafestol), it was important to test them together.”
Cafestol is found mainly in non-alcoholic beverages, such as French, Turkish and Greek coffees, but also in espressos, which is the basis of many barista coffees, including latte and cappuccinos.
There is not even the least amount of cafestol in refined and fast coffee, so in terms of effects on lipids, those are good coffee choices.
“The results of this study can be very comprehensive. In my opinion it is very important for people with high cholesterol or who are worried about getting heart disease to choose carefully what coffee they drink,” said Professor Hypponen.
Professor Hypponen added, “The important thing is that the coffee-lipid organization depends on the dose – the more you drink unrefined coffee the higher your blood lipids, which puts you at greater risk for heart disease.”
Worldwide, about 3 million cups of coffee are consumed every day. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, with an estimated 17.9 million lives annually.
The study used data from 362,571 UK Biobank participants, aged 37–73, using a triangle of phenotypic and genetic methods to perform a complete analysis.
While the judge is still out on the health effects of coffee, Professor Hypponen said it is always wise to choose refined coffee where possible and be careful not to drink too much, especially when talking about a stimulant such as coffee.
“With coffee at the heart of most people, it will always be a matter of debate,” said Professor Hypponen.
“Our research shows that excess coffee is not good for heart health, which in fact affects those who are at risk. Indeed, unless we know otherwise, the old proverb often goes well – all in moderation – when it comes to health, this is good advice,” concludes Professor Hypponen.