Excess coffee consumption increases the risk of heart disease

How many cups of coffee do you drink per day?

Last year we reported on the fact that drinking coffee three times a day could prevent clogged arteries, but is there a point where consumption starts to lose its positive effects and actually starts to harm your heart health?

According to the latest research, there is definitely a tipping point for coffee consumption and that point is six cups per day.

Read more: Coffee three times a day could prevent clogged arteries

Researchers from the University of South Australia conducted a genetic study, which found that long-term, heavy coffee consumption – six or more cups per day – could increase the amount of lipids (fats) in your blood to significantly heighten the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The research also found that the more coffee you drink above the six cups per day, the greater the risk of heart disease, explained the University of South Australia’s Professor Eline Hypponen.

“There’s certainly a lot of scientific debate about the pros and cons of coffee, but while it may seem like we’re going over old ground, it’s essential to fully understand how one of the world’s most widely consumed drinks can impact our health,” Prof. Hypponen explained.

Read more: Can consuming coffee lengthen your life?

“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.

“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.

“Cafestol is mainly present in unfiltered brews, such as French press, Turkish and Greek coffees, but it is also in espressos, the base for most barista-made coffees including lattes and cappuccinos.

Read more: Energy-boosting foods that are better than coffee

“There is no, or very little cafestol in filtered and instant coffee, so with respect to effects on lipids, those are good coffee choices.

“The implications of this study are potentially broad-reaching. In my opinion, it is especially important for people with high cholesterol or who are worried about getting heart disease to carefully choose what type of coffee they drink.

“Importantly, the coffee-lipid association is dose-dependent – the more you drink unfiltered coffee the more it raises your blood lipids, putting you at greater risk of heart disease.”

The findings from this study align closely with Norwegian research last year that found people who drank filtered coffee had a 15 per cent reduced risk of death compared to people who drank no coffee at all.

While the jury still may be out on the health impacts of coffee, Prof. Hypponen says it is always wise to choose filtered coffee when possible and be wary of overindulging, especially when it comes to a stimulant such as coffee.

“With coffee being close to the heart for many people, it’s always going to be a controversial subject,” Prof. Hypponen explained.

“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; this is generally good advice.”

Do you have a coffee habit? How many cups per day do you drink? Do you have a history of heart problems? Would you consider switching to drinking filtered coffee?

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Written by Ben