In case you needed any encouragement for enjoying your coffee, a new study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology has found that drinking 2 – 3 cups of coffee per day is associated with significant reductions in incidents of cardiovascular disease, arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), and overall mortality.

The study followed about 450,000 people over an average of 12.5 years who were free from arrhythmia or other cardiovascular disease when they started.  They divided them into four groups regarding their self-reported coffee consumption:  caffeinated ground coffee drinkers, decaf drinkers, caffeinated instant coffee drinkers, and non-coffee drinkers.  The results were as follows:

Drinking 2 – 3 cups of coffee a day, when compared to not drinking coffee at all, resulted in a 27% lowered risk of early death in those who drank ground coffee, 14% lower risk for decaf drinkers, and 11% for instant.

2 – 3 cups of coffee per day lowered the risk for heart disease and stroke by 20% for ground coffee, 6% for decaf and 9% for instant.

4 – 5 cups per day lowered the risk of irregular heartbeat by 17% for ground coffee drinkers, 2 – 3 cups of instant coffee reduced the risk by 12%, but decaf coffee did not reduce the risk of arrhythmia.

The health benefits of drinking coffee have been recognized for many years.  Coffee is very high in antioxidants, including hydrocinnamic acids  and polyphenols.  These are linked to a reduced risk of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.  In the Western diet, beverages provide 79% of dietary antioxidants while only 21% come from food, and coffee is the biggest dietary source of antioxidants.

While you should strive to increase the level of antioxidants you get from the food you eat, go ahead and enjoy a few cups of coffee every day.  Keep in mind that you don’t want to destroy the benefits by loading up on sweeteners and high fat flavorings.  While a plain cup of brewed black coffee has 2 calories and no fat or carbs, a super sweet coffee shop concoction can have around 600 calories, over 20 grams of fat and 75 grams of sugar.  If the caffeine in coffee bothers you, you can still get health benefits from decaf.


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