Scientists identify the best amount of coffee to drink each day

A man holds of glass of iced coffee
Posed by model (Photo: Shutterstock)

It’s something of a stereotype that gay men love their iced coffee… but what about the health benefits of consuming all that caffeine?

A new study believes it’s identified the most beneficial amount of coffee to consume each day if you’re keeping an eye on your heart health. It looked at almost 500,000 coffee drinkers and says anything between 0.5 to 3 cups of coffee a day conveys heart health benefits.

Researchers say drinking more coffee than this was not harmful, but doing so did not bring the same advantages.

One big proviso was that the benefits only came from drinking ground coffee, not instant. Perhaps surprisingly, the benefits were also the same for those who drank decaffeinated coffee, suggesting the health boost is not down to caffeine.

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It’s known that coffee contains plenty of antioxidants, although compared to tea, it often gets a bad rep.

The study was undertaken by researchers at Queen Mary University of London and the Budapest Semmelweis University.

The participants were broken down into three groups: non-coffee drinkers, light-to-moderate coffee-drinkers and those who consumed a significant amount of coffee a day. None had heart disease at the start of the study. The study also noted down other risk factors, such as smoking, cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

After 11 years, the participants were followed up to see if any had cardiovascular disease. Around 100,000 underwent detailed CMR scans to take a closer look at their hearts.

The peer-reviewed study was published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology.

Professor Steffen Petersen of the William Harvey Research Institute at Queen Mary University of London said: “According to the results, light-to-moderate coffee consumption is not damaging from a cardiovascular point of view, and it could be beneficial. As far as we know, this has been the largest study to date which focused on the effect of coffee on cardiovascular health.”

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Dr. Judit Simon, a PhD student at the Semmelweis University, said: “Light-to-moderate coffee consumption was associated with a 12% lower risk of overall mortality, and with a 17% lower risk of death caused by cardiovascular diseases compared to non-coffee drinkers. In addition, from half to three cups of coffee was associated with a 21 % lower risk of stroke.”

It was found that coffee drinking increased blood pressure in those not used to drinking it, but this effect was negligible in habitual drinkers.

Dr. Pál Maurovich-Horvat, the Director of the Medical Imaging Centre at the Semmelweis University, said it was also important to note that, “even for those who were heavy coffee-drinkers, we did not find evidence of negative cardiovascular consequences. However, there were no positive health benefits observed in this group—as in the group of the light-to-moderate drinkers.”

The research, should you be wondering, was not sponsored or funded by any coffee companies, so this appears to be genuinely good news for coffee lovers.

That said, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should go mad at Starbucks if you like your coffee filled with flavored syrup or loaded with whipped cream and sprinkles: increases in sugar and fat may subtract from any purely coffee-related health benefits.

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