Is Coffee Good for Your Heart?
A beautiful sunset. Children’s laughter. A warm shower after a long winter day. As we age, we begin to realize that it’s the little things in life that bring us the greatest joy. For many, there is no greater delight than the moment that the first sip of coffee hits the lips in the morning.
Coffee is a simple pleasure that nearly two-thirds of Americans enjoy daily. However, drinking coffee is much more than a morning ritual. Coffee brings people together. “Let’s meet for coffee” is often synonymous with “Let’s connect and have a conversation.” A cup of joe provides an avenue for catching up with friends, making business deals, and even forging new romantic partnerships.
But many worry that their daily coffee routine could harm their health. After all, could something so enjoyable also be healthy? The answer might surprise you. In its purest form, coffee is a magnificent superfood. Rich in antioxidants and loaded with vitamins and minerals, your morning “cuppa coffee” may help keep your brain healthy, boost metabolism, and ward off disease – including conditions of the heart. In fact, your daily indulgence may even extend your life!
The great news about coffee
Let’s be honest, the last couple of years have not brought forth the best news. However, buried deep below the fear-based headlines came perhaps the best news: scientists across the globe concluded that drinking coffee has incredible health benefits.
Here are just a few of the benefits of coffee proven by scientific studies in the last two years:
A large 2021 study involving nearly half a million people found that drinking coffee significantly lowered the risk of liver disease. Researchers concluded that coffee lovers are approximately 20 percent less likely to develop chronic liver disease and nearly 50 percent less likely to die of chronic liver disease than those who abstain from coffee. The study also concluded that drinking coffee is protective against liver cancer.
A long-term study published in 2021 found that drinking three or more cups of coffee a day was associated with better cognitive function. Coffee drinkers exhibited better memory, focus, and language skills than non-coffee drinkers. Scientists also found that coffee drinkers experience less accumulation of the amyloid protein in the brain, one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
Drinking coffee can help make life more enjoyable, says a 2020 study. The research evaluated data from more than 100 studies and found that individuals who drank at least two cups of coffee each day reduced their depression risk by one-third.
In another 2021 study, researchers found that people who sip two to three cups of coffee a day had a 32 percent lower risk of stroke than those who don’t drink coffee. Interestingly, they also had a 28 percent lower risk of dementia.
Scientists concluded in a 2021 study that light to moderate coffee drinkers experience less arterial stiffness than those who don’t drink coffee. The stiffer and harder the arteries, the more the heart has to work to pump the blood around the body, often resulting in higher blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
A 2021 study found that individuals who consume at least one cup of coffee have a ten percent lower chance of contracting Covid-19 than their non-coffee drinking peers.
A 2022 European study concluded that those individuals who drank between one and a half and three and a half cups of coffee a day had a 30 percent lower risk of death from any cause than non-coffee drinkers.
What Makes Coffee So Healthy?
Stress has a significant impact on health. This includes mental and emotional stress, as well as physical stress from chemicals and toxins. Each day we are bombarded with stress through environmental pollution, pesticides, cleaning chemicals, mold, and toxic drinking water, resulting in the formation of unstable molecules called free radicals. Left unchecked, free radicals overwhelm the body, resulting in oxidative stress. Oxidative stress damages our cells and DNA, leading to premature aging, inflammation, and disease.
Thankfully, we are not defenseless against free radicals. One way that our bodies fight oxidative stress is through antioxidants. Antioxidants help to disarm free radicals and neutralize the damage that they cause. Antioxidants graciously donate electrons to free radicals, neutralizing them and rendering them harmless.
Of all staples in the American diet, coffee beans carry one of the highest levels of antioxidants in existence. In fact, studies have shown that Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than from any other dietary source.
Where do the antioxidants in coffee come from? It all begins with naturally occurring plant compounds called polyphenols. Polyphenols have potent antioxidant properties, and coffee is one of the most polyphenol-rich beverages, containing over 200 mg of total polyphenols per 100 mg of coffee.
Specifically, coffee is rich in chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant found almost exclusively in coffee. Chlorogenic acid has been shown to protect the heart and vascular system. Polyphenols also protect the heart by:
- Improving the function of the lining of the heart and blood vessels
- Improving cholesterol levels in the body
- Helping to prevent blood clots
In addition to their antioxidant effects, polyphenols have anti-inflammatory properties as well. Multiple studies suggest that coffee may help to reduce inflammation, thus reducing the risk of disease. For example, a 2016 study found that regular coffee drinkers had lower levels of several inflammatory markers.
Coffee also contains small amounts of micronutrients that are helpful to the heart. For example, a single serving of coffee has the following:
|Micronutrient||Per cup of coffee (approximate)|
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
Niacin (Vitamin B3)
Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5)
Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
Does It Do a Heart Good?
Many healthcare providers advise their cardiac patients to steer clear of coffee. At first glance, the rationale makes sense. Coffee, particularly caffeinated coffee, is a stimulant that generally makes the heart beat faster. An accelerated heart rate could spell danger for individuals with certain heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation.
Whether or not cautioned by their doctors, research suggests that cardiac patients drink less coffee. A 2021 study suggests that individuals with a history of cardiac symptoms subconsciously reduce the amount of coffee they drink to ward off possible cardiovascular side effects.
The researchers found that people with high blood pressure, stable chest pain, or abnormal heart rhythms were more likely to drink less coffee or seek out decaffeinated alternatives than those who did not report related symptoms. In fact, the higher the blood pressure, the fewer cups of coffee people drank. The study suggests that our bodies may have an innate understanding of how coffee impacts us individually.
Over the years, the research surrounding coffee consumption for patients with cardiac disease has been inconsistent. While many studies have given coffee drinkers the green light, others have cautioned against it. However, the most recent scientific research finds that two to three cups of coffee a day benefits the heart and may even lengthen your life.
In one of the most extensive studies on this topic, scientists found that individuals who drank two to three cups of coffee each day had a 10-15 percent lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, heart failure, arrhythmia, or dying for any reason.
In another 2022 study, researchers concluded that coffee drinkers were not at higher risk of developing heart rhythm problems like AFib or atrial flutter. Moreover, those who began the study with AFib had a lower risk of death. For instance, AFib patients who drank a cup of coffee each day were nearly 20 percent less likely to die than those who refrain from coffee.
A third study in 2022 examined different types of coffee, including instant and decaffeinated. While there was no difference between drinking instant or ground coffee, researchers did conclude that caffeinated coffee was most effective at reducing the risk of abnormal heart rhythms.
Top 5 coffee myths: Busted!
Coffee is coffee
Have you ever taken a sip of watered-down coffee? Or perhaps you were out of town and grabbed a quick cup of joe, only to realize that it tastes bitter and burnt. You don’t have to be a coffee aficionado to know that not all coffee is created equal.
Coffee beans prefer to grow in shady areas. However, as the demand for coffee has increased, farmers have changed their practices, clearing large areas of land to produce more crops. As a result, most coffee is now sun-grown. Unprotected by the forest canopy, coffee beans require multiple chemicals to stay alive.
In fact, conventionally grown coffee is one of the most chemically treated beverages on the market. It’s doused in synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides. If these chemicals are made to kill insects and weeds, imagine what they do when infused inside your body through your daily cup of joe. Moreover, studies show that organic coffee beans contain more healthy antioxidants than conventional beans.
Great, so just buy organic coffee, right? Not so fast. There’s more to the story. Poor harvesting, roasting, and storing practices often lead to the development of mold in coffee. In fact, multiple studies have found measurable amounts of mold mycotoxins in coffee beans. Mold mycotoxins are harmful to the body, and especially to the heart.
You might want to think twice about stopping at a coffee chain or grabbing a cup of joe at the gas station. In most cases, you are drinking a cup of toxic chemicals and mold. So instead, invest in coffee that is hand-selected, organic, and mold-free.
Coffee causes dehydration
Anyone who drinks coffee knows that it often prompts a few bathroom trips. This is because the caffeine in coffee is a mild diuretic, meaning it makes you urinate more often.
However, coffee is 98 percent water, and any diuretic effects are offset by the high volume of water in coffee. Studies confirm no evidence of dehydration with moderate coffee intake. As a matter of fact, you can even count your cup of coffee towards your daily water intake for the day.
Decaffeinated coffee is healthier
Mention “decaf” to a coffee-lover, and they’ll likely roll their eyes. After all, what’s the point of coffee without the jolt of caffeine? However, there are many reasons people choose to drink decaffeinated coffee. Some individuals are more sensitive than others to stimulants like caffeine. Others simply believe that decaf is just healthier.
Studies show that decaf and regular coffee share many of the same health benefits, including their inflammation-lowering qualities. A 2021 study found that decaffeinated coffee lowered systolic blood pressure slightly more than its high-energy friend.
Decaffeinated coffee comes from beans that have had 97 percent of the caffeine removed. However, since coffee beans naturally contain caffeine, the decaffeination process is not necessarily healthy.
Most coffee processing plants soak their coffee beans in a chemical bath that leaches out the caffeine. The chemicals used, such as methylene chloride and ethyl acetate, are commonly used in paint thinners, glue, and nail polish removers. Although FDA approved, these chemicals have been shown to disrupt the nervous system, promote cancer, and may even cause cardiovascular issues.
As both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee share similar health benefits, it truly comes down to how both are grown and processed. If you choose to steer clear of caffeine, be sure your brew is decaffeinated using the Swiss Water Process (SWP). This chemical-free method removes caffeine using only water, thus retaining all the antioxidants and properties that make coffee beneficial. Cardiology Coffee removes caffeine using the SWP method.
The darker the roast, the more flavorful the coffee
You might be surprised to learn that raw coffee beans start green. This beloved seed grows inside a fruit called a coffee cherry. The roasting process causes these green seeds to undergo an incredible transformation.
Many people enjoy a dark roasted bean, mistakenly thinking that the darker the roast, the more robust the flavor. However, the taste of coffee depends on many other factors, including the soil in which the bean is grown, the chemicals used, the coffee’s age, the roasting method, and the way it is processed and packed. Even the way in which a cup is brewed affects the taste. The three main types of roasts include:
- Light roast – A light roast bean is acidic with a fruity or toasted flavor. Because the bean is minimally roasted, it retains more of its original flavor, taking on hints of the soil, altitude, and weather in which it’s grown.
- Medium roast – A medium roast bean has balanced acidity and bitterness with nutty undertones. The origin flavor is less distinguished than a light roast, but may still be recognizable.
- Dark roast – A dark roast bean creates a coffee with low acidity and a smooth, almost chocolatey taste. In most cases, the roast flavor eclipses the origin flavor.
So which coffee is the most flavorful? Hand-selected coffee free of chemicals, mold, and other contaminants holds the best flavor. As far as the most delicious roast? That’s simple: It’s the one that your taste buds like best.
Coffee contributes to abnormal heart rhythms
For decades, physicians believed that coffee’s stimulating effects on the body were responsible for abnormal heartbeats, also called palpitations. However, recent studies suggest that this isn’t necessarily true. For example, a 2021 study concluded that drinking coffee is linked to significantly lower rates of AFib and other cardiac arrhythmias such as ventricular tachycardia. As a result, the authors concluded that most individuals can enjoy their coffee without worrying about the risks of abnormal heartbeats.
However, it’s essential to recognize that people respond differently to food and drink. In caffeine-sensitive individuals, coffee can stimulate the release of stress hormones, leading to a jittery, anxious feeling or irregular heart rhythms. Some individuals may experience coffee-induced heart arrhythmias, while others don’t.
When was the last time you sat and truly relished your java? If you’re like most Americans, you hurriedly drink your cup while running late to a meeting. Become mindful while drinking coffee, and listen carefully to how your body responds.
Supercharge your Coffee
Coffee, in and of itself, is a superfood. However, believe it or not, there are ways to add even more nutrients to your daily cup. If you want to up the ante on health, some of the best additions to your daily jolt include:
Raw organic cacao powder
If ordering a mocha is your thing, you will love the addition of cacao powder to your coffee. With 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries, you can’t go wrong. Cacao is also the richest source of plant-based iron and is full of magnesium and calcium. Simply add a teaspoon to your coffee for a chocolatey boost.
Cinnamon is so much more than a fall-based flavoring. This heart-healthy spice is loaded with antioxidants. Moreover, cinnamon has been shown to improve cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of diabetes, and lower inflammation. While a bit more expensive, Ceylon cinnamon is of the highest quality and will offer the ultimate health benefits.
Spice, spice baby. Sprinkling a bit of turmeric on your coffee adds an additional dose of healthy antioxidants to your morning routine. Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, is a potent anti-inflammatory that protects the heart. Add a pinch of black pepper to enhance turmeric’s absorption by up to 2000 percent.
Together, ginger and coffee create a mighty, free-radical fighting, delicious concoction. Not only is ginger excellent for digestion, but studies also show that it may help lower blood pressure. So take a little sprinkle of organic ground ginger or a few slices of fresh, and add it to your coffee.
Who doesn’t love a vanilla latte? Vanillin, the phenolic plant compound found in vanilla beans, is a proven antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that protects the heart. Studies have also found that vanilla increases the perceived sweetness of beverages. Simply scrape a small amount of organic vanilla bean seeds into your hot coffee and mix.
Organic mint leaves
Few things are as refreshing as a cold glass of iced coffee on a hot summer day. Next time you make iced coffee, consider adding mint to the mix. Mint is a powerful antioxidant with antibacterial compounds that help ward off disease.
Coconut (MCT) oil
If you drink coffee for an energy boost, consider adding coconut oil to your java. Coconut oil is a medium chain triglyceride (MCT), and these types of fatty acids are absorbed quickly by the liver, offering a sustained energy boost to the body. Additionally, coconut oil is full of lauric acid, the same great stuff found in breastmilk. Lauric acid is a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce oxidative stress and lower blood pressure. Simply pour a spoonful at the bottom of your coffee mug and let the hot coffee dissolve the heart-healthy goodness.
100% pure maple syrup
Adding artificial sweeteners to coffee negates the health benefits and is downright dangerous. However, once in a while, our taste buds crave a bit of sugary love. In those rare instances, adding maple syrup to your cup of joe might do the trick. Studies have found maple syrup to be packed with up to 54 antioxidants. However, while maple syrup has some health benefits, it’s still a type of sugar to be used sparingly.
3 important considerations
For Coffee Lovers
By now, you are well aware of the fantastic health benefits of well-sourced organic coffee. However, there’s still a bit more to understand. Take the following into consideration when making your coffee:
1. Preparation matters
You’ve purchased top-of-the-line coffee, such as Cardiology Coffee. You’ve bought a grinder to bring those amazingly healthy whole beans to a usable form. Excellent! You are good to go, right? Not so fast. It’s important to consider what equipment you use to make your coffee.
Many standard plastic coffee makers are made with toxic chemicals, such as BPA. The hot water in your coffee maker can cause these toxins to leech into your daily coffee. Thankfully, there are many safe alternatives. Consider a stainless steel or glass pour-over coffee maker. While at it, take a closer look at the coffee filters you use. Some filters are bleached white, which translates to toxic byproducts called dioxins in your morning cup of joe.
How you brew your coffee matters too. Read our best practices brewing guide.
2. Water quality matters
Water quality matters when you enjoy a glass of water or a cup of coffee. Without a high-quality water filtration system, the water we drink is filled with tons of dangerous toxins, including heavy metals, pharmaceutics, bacteria, and other unwanted pathogens. And if you think that bottled water is a better choice, it’s not.
Consider investigating the quality of your water and investing in a filtration system that will enhance the quality and taste of your coffee. You are already adding so much goodness to your body by choosing healthy coffee. The last thing you want to do is inadvertently add more toxins through unhealthy water.
3. The source matters
The coffee industry is notorious for unhealthy working conditions on its plantations. In fact, recent investigations have revealed that forced labor is still very much alive in certain areas worldwide. These individuals have little to no rights, working long hours for minimal pay. Moreover, they are often exposed to dangerous chemicals, leading to lifelong health problems.
Everything is energy, and good health requires supporting our fellow humans. So be sure to know the source of the coffee you are drinking, ensuring it is fair trade. By doing so, you are supporting the ethical treatment of fellow humans with your dollar. Cardiology Coffee, for example, is a fair trade coffee grown in Honduras by a cooperative of women who have secured economic freedom while caring for their land and crops.
Try this coffee recipe!
Frosted Mint Coconut Mocha
When the rest of your friends buy fancy (read: expensive and unhealthy) drinks at the coffee shop, show up with your homemade concoction. This delightful, summery drink is made with many superfoods and is packed with heart-healthy antioxidants.
- 2 cups brewed coffee
- 1 Tbsp raw organic cacao powder
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 3/4 cup fresh mint
- 1 vanilla bean, halved and deseeded
- 1/2 cup coconut milk (or any nut milk of choice)
- 1 Tbsp 100% pure maple syrup
- 1/2 cup of ice
- Brew 2 cups of Cardiology Coffee
- In a glass bowl or container, place fresh mint leaves
- Pour freshly-brewed coffee over the mint leaves, add in maple syrup
- Using the back of a spoon or a muddler, muddle the leaves with the coffee and maple syrup
- Add in cacao powder, coconut oil, and vanilla to taste. Mix well to dissolve all ingredients in the warm coffee
- Place mixture in the fridge for 15-30 minutes, until cooled
- Strain the mixture, removing the mint leaves
- Place coffee mixture in a blender with ice and coconut milk
- Blend on high until desired consistency, such as that of a frappuccino or milkshake. Enjoy!
The coffee that is worth waking up early for
A hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning is perhaps the best part of the day. Or perhaps it’s that cold brew that quenches the afternoon thirst and provides a burst of energy.
How does it feel to know that, when chosen correctly, your morning cup of joe is also providing a healthy dose of antioxidants and vitamins? By choosing Cardiology Coffee, you are investing in a beverage that is good for the earth, easy for your conscience, and excellent for your health.