Coffee is a beverage that many people feel they can’t live without.
In fact, Canadian coffee drinkers drank 2.7 cups of the hot caffeinated beverages per day on average in 2020.
But while we’ve all heard the benefits of drinking coffee, you may be wondering if there are any potential downsides to a daily cup or two. After all, there’s some evidence to suggest that drinking too much caffeine can raise blood pressure and cholesterol levels and even damage artery walls.
So what’s the real story here? Is coffee bad for the heart?
Is Coffee Bad for the Heart?
Coffee can be good for the heart, as it has been shown to lower the risk of:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Heart disease
But coffee also causes many negative side effects that are not so great for your body.
Coffee consumption is associated with increased blood pressure in some people, especially those with pre-existing heart conditions.
That’s why people who take medication for high blood pressure should avoid drinking a lot of coffee or other caffeinated beverages on a regular basis.
Caffeine may cause heart arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms) in those who already have a history of these conditions.
Coffee is a well-known stimulant, and like many stimulants, it increases heart rate.
When you drink a caffeinated beverage, your body speeds up as a response to the stimulant in the coffee.
Caffeine can in fact raise your LDL levels while simultaneously lowering your good cholesterol levels.
If you love lots of sugar in your coffee, you’re not doing your heart any favours.
While it may taste good, the long term effects of consuming large amounts of sugar will, for most people, outweigh the short term benefits. In fact, many experts believe that sugar is directly linked to the rise in heart disease over the last few decades.
Instead, try sweetening your coffee with a healthy sugar substitute, like stevia.
I Love Coffee. What Now?
While it’s not as simple as saying “yes” or “no” to drinking coffee, the key is moderation: the more coffee you drink in relation to other factors that affect the heart (such as smoking, poor diet, not exercising regularly), the greater your risk for heart disease and other cardiovascular issues.
As a general rule of thumb, if an average person enjoys one cup per day without any negative side effects (like stomach upset, heart palpatations, etc), there’s no reason they can’t keep enjoying their morning beverage – in moderation!
If you think you’re drinking too much coffee, there are several ways to tell:
- You experience frequent headaches that go away when you stop drinking coffee
- Your heart rate goes up when you drink it (for example, after just one cup)
- You get jittery and nervous after having more than two cups in a row (or even two cups in a day)
Answering the question “Is coffee bad for the heart?” isn’t that simple.
Coffee can be good for you – some studies even suggest that habitual coffee drinking has been linked to a lower risk of coronary artery disease in women – while also posing some risks for the heart if over-consumed.
The key to enjoying it safely is moderation. If you enjoy drinking coffee and want to keep doing so, just keep your intake around 3 cups (or 400 mg) per day – and limit the sugar!
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