Most are very encouraging, showing a significant decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease. Only excesses and some transient effects on memory require the approach of new research.
Black coffee is good for the heart
Three large-scale studies, using the analytical methods of the American Heart Association, show a reduction in the risk of heart failure in the consumption of black coffee and caffeine, informs CNN.
The benefits do not extend to decaffeinated coffee. The analysis even associated decaffeinated coffee with a higher risk of heart failure.
Heart failure occurs when a weakened heart fails to supply cells with enough oxygen for the body to function properly. Affected people suffer from fatigue, respiratory failure and have problems walking, climbing stairs and performing daily activities.
“Without being able to prove causation, it is interesting that these three studies show that drinking coffee is associated with a lower risk of heart failure, and coffee can be part of daily eating habits if drunk plain, without sugar and fatty dairy.” says nutritionist Penny Kris-Etherton, former chair of the American Heart Association’s Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Council Leadership Committee. She was not involved in that research.
The study, published in February in the AHA Journal Circulation: Heart Failure, looks at data from the Framingham Heart Study. That study, begun in 1948, included 5,000 people diagnosed with heart disease who lived in Framingham, Massachusetts. They and their descendants were kept under observation for 72 years for three generations.
The new study used modern analytical methods to compare data from the Framingham study with those from Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities, a longitudinal birasial study, and those from the 10-year-old Cardiovascular Health Study on 65-year-old adults at cardiovascular risk. Together, these studies provided information from more than 21,000 American adults.
Compared to people who do not drink coffee, the analysis found that the risk of heart failure decreased over time by 5 to 12% for each cup of coffee drunk each day in Framingham and Cardiovascular Health studies.
The risk of heart failure was the same for those who did not drink at all or just one cup a day in the Atherosclerosis Risk study. But when people drank two or more cups of black coffee a day, the risk dropped by 30%.
All studies were done for black coffee. But many people add dairy, sugar or flavors that are high in calories, sugar and fat. They nullify the heart health benefits, warns AHA.
Also, in most studies the coffee cup is 200 ml; In America, a standard “grande” coffee has 400 ml.
And making coffee has health consequences. Unlike filter coffee makers, “French press”, “Turkish” coffee or boiled coffee popular in Scandinavian countries fail to retain a compound called cafestol from the oily part of coffee. Cafestol can increase “bad” cholesterol or LDL (low density lipoprotein).
Excess caffeine can be dangerous. High coffee consumption (over four cups / day) can affect pregnancy and weaken bones in women, and those with sleep problems or diabetes should ask their doctor before and make a habit of drinking coffee.
Coffee has an effect on the structure of the brain
A team from the University of Basel, Switzerland, conducted a study of the effects of regular coffee consumption on brain structure. One conclusion was that it leads to a reduction in gray matter, especially in the area of the brain that controls memory. But the effects are transient and do not seem to last. In fact, giving up coffee for 10 days seems to be enough to restore the volume of gray matter, writes BGR.
20 young people were selected for the study, all coffee drinkers, who were given pills for two periods of 10 days each. At one time, the pills contained caffeine, at another they were placebo. 10 volunteers started with caffeine, then received a placebo, and the other 10 – vice versa. They followed a program with a fixed sleep interval of at least 8 h 30 min, without falling asleep during the day.
They refrained from other caffeinated beverages or foods during the study, and the use of smartphones and other forms of socializing was banned. Repeated MRI scans were performed to determine effects on the brain, and sleep was monitored with polysomnomorphic recordings that included EEG.
Surprisingly, it was found that sleep was not affected by caffeine consumption, being similar to volunteers who had received caffeine or placebo. The significant difference was found in gray matter, which was greater after the placebo period.
The change was “striking” in the right medial temporal lobe, including the hippocampus, a region responsible for memory consolidation. But no memory loss could be proven, although special tests were performed during the study. And the 10 days of abstinence were enough for the volume of gray matter to regenerate.
“Our results do not necessarily mean a negative impact of coffee consumption on the brain,” said Dr. Carolin Reichert, the study’s coordinator. “Changes in brain morphology seem temporary, but systematic comparisons between coffee drinkers and those who drink little or nothing are currently missing.”
New research will therefore be needed.
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