Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, and for good reason. It's delicious, it gives us a boost of energy, and there’s evidence that it even has benefits for longevity. But what about its effect on our heart health?
New research published in the New England Journal of Medicine provides some insights.
The study was conducted on 100 healthy volunteers who were mostly younger than 40. The participants were outfitted with gadgets that continuously monitored their heart function, daily steps, sleep patterns, and blood sugar. They were then sent daily text messages instructing them to drink or avoid caffeinated coffee on certain days over a two-week period.
The researchers found that drinking coffee did not result in more daily episodes of extra heartbeats, known as premature atrial contractions. This was an excellent finding because, while premature atrial contractions are common and usually harmless, they can occasionally predict a potentially dangerous heart condition called atrial fibrillation.
The researchers did find slight evidence of another kind of irregular heartbeat that comes from the lower heart chambers, called premature ventricular contractions.
Such beats are also common and not usually serious, but they have been associated with a higher risk of heart problems. The researchers found more of these early beats in people on the days they drank coffee, but only in those who drank two or more cups per day.
The volunteers also logged about 1,000 more steps per day on the days they drank coffee — and they slept about 36 minutes less and showed no difference in blood sugar levels.
So what does this mean for us coffee lovers?
Overall, the findings of this study are reassuring. While it's important to be mindful of your caffeine intake, especially if you have any underlying heart conditions, it seems that moderate coffee consumption can be safely enjoyed as part of a healthy lifestyle.