SEOUL, South Korea, Friday March 6, 2015 – New research from South Korea, which suggests the consumption of moderate amounts of coffee may be beneficial to the heart, has reopened the debate about the effect of coffee on heart health.
The Korean researchers believe that drinking a few cups of coffee daily may help people avoid clogged arteries, which are a known risk factor for heart disease.
In the study, the scientists monitored more than 25,000 male and female employees who underwent routine health checks at their workplace.
Employees who drank three to five cups of coffee a day were found to be less likely to have early signs of heart disease on their medical scans.
The researchers were using the scans to detect any disease of the coronary arteries, the arteries supplying the heart, which become clogged by the gradual build-up of fatty material within their walls in coronary heart disease.
Specifically, the scientists were looking for tiny calcium deposits in the walls of the coronary arteries, which provide an early clue that this disease process may be occurring.
More than one in 10 of the employees in the study were found to have visible calcium deposits on their scans, despite the fact that none had outward signs of heart disease.
The Korean researchers went on to compare these results with the participants’ daily coffee consumption, while taking into account other potential heart risk factors such as family history of heart problems, smoking, and insufficient exercise.
The employees who drank a few cups of coffee a day were found to be less likely to have calcium deposits in their coronary arteries than those who drank more than this or no coffee at all.
The authors of the study, which was published in the journal Heart, nevertheless say that more research is needed to confirm and explain the link.
Previous studies have linked coffee consumption to heart risk factors such as elevated blood pressure or cholesterol. Other studies have suggested that coffee may offer some heart protection.
In the absence of conclusive evidence either way, the new research from South Korea only serves to add to the ongoing discussion.
In addition to numerous other compounds, coffee contains the stimulant caffeine, but it is not clear if any of these are beneficial or detrimental.
Experts in the United States say that up to 400mg of caffeine a day appears safe for most healthy adults. This amount would be found in about four cups of instant coffee or three cups of filter coffee.