Drinking two or three cups of coffee a day has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, a new study has found.
Researchers looked at data provided by the UK Biobank study, which has the health information of more than one million people.
They analyzed the levels of coffee consumption, which ranged from up to a cup to more than six cups a day.
Two or three cups had the biggest benefit, as drinking those on a daily basis were found to lower the risk of a number of heart conditions by 10 to 15 per cent.
Conditions included the likes of coronary heart disease, heart failure, a heart rhythm problem or dying for any reason.
The risk of stroke or heart-related death was lowest among people who drank one cup of coffee a day.
When it came to new heart rhythm problems, the maximum benefit was seen among those drinking two to three cups of coffee a day, and less benefit was seen among those drinking more or less than this amount.
The analysis is thought to be the largest to look at coffees potential role in heart disease and death. It indicates the drink is not tied to new or worsening heart disease and may actually be good for the heart.
Researchers suggest their findings allow people with heart conditions to drink coffee as part of a healthy diet.
Did you know you can keep up to date with the latest news by signing up to our daily newsletter?
We send a morning and lunchtime newsletter covering the latest headlines every day.
We also send coronavirus updates at 5pm on weekdays, and a round up of the week’s must-read stories on Sunday afternoons.
Signing up is simple, easy and free.
You can pop your email address into the sign up box above, hit Subscribe and we’ll do the rest.
Alternatively, you can sign up and check out the rest of our newsletters here.
Peter Kistler, head of arrhythmia research at the Alfred Hospital and Baker Heart Institute in Melbourne, Australia – and the study’s senior author, said: “Because coffee can quicken heart rate, some people worry that drinking it could trigger or worsen certain heart issues.
“This is where general medical advice to stop drinking coffee may come from.
“But our data suggest that daily coffee intake shouldn’t be discouraged, but rather included as a part of a healthy diet for people with and without heart disease.
“We found coffee drinking had either a neutral effect – meaning that it did no harm – or was associated with benefits to heart health.”
A second study included 34,279 people who had some form of cardiovascular disease.
In this group drinking two to three cups of coffee a day was associated with a lower chance of dying compared with having no coffee.
Prof Kistler said: “Clinicians generally have some apprehension about people with known cardiovascular disease or arrhythmias continuing to drink coffee, so they often err on the side of caution and advise them to stop drinking it altogether due to fears that it may trigger dangerous heart rhythms. .
“But our study shows that regular coffee intake is safe and could be part of a healthy diet for people with heart disease.”
Researchers suggest it is not the caffeine in the coffee beans that is beneficial, but instead more than 100 biologically active compounds.
Among other things, these can help reduce inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity and inhibit the gut’s absorption of fat and block receptors known to be involved with abnormal heart rhythms.
In a third study, researchers looked at whether there were any differences in the relationship between coffee and cardiovascular disease depending on whether someone drank instant or ground coffee or caffeinated or decaf.
Again they found that drinking two to three cups a day was associated with the lowest risk of arrhythmias, blockages in the heart’s arteries, stroke or heart failure regardless of whether they had ground or instant coffee.
Tracy Parker, heart health dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This research suggests drinking a few cups of coffee a day shouldn’t affect your heart health – great news for anyone who enjoys a morning pick-me-up.
“The best way to improve your cardiovascular health is to maintain a healthy lifestyle, not focus on how much coffee you drink.
“How you take your coffee is important too – added syrups, sugar, cream or large milky coffees can all add up in terms of sugar, calories and saturated fat.
“And if you know you’re sensitive to caffeine, it’s best to limit or avoid it.”
The studies, which have not been peer-reviewed, are being presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 71st Annual Scientific Session.