Americans drink a lot of coffee. Per capita, it’s fourth on the list of beverages consumed within a calendar year:

1. Soda – 45 gallons (per person, per year)
2. Bottled Water – 29 gallonscoffee
3. Beer – 21 gallons
4. Coffee – 20 gallons

About two-thirds of U.S. adults will drink at least one cup of coffee per day, and the average is 2.7 cups per day. When you take a look at other countries, you find that the United States is only about number 20 on the list of coffee consumption by country. Coffee is a worldwide favorite, and it doesn’t seem like that’s going to change anytime soon.
So when it comes to heart health, is coffee helpful or harmful? My grandmother’s doctor consistently recommended to her that she should eliminate or sharply reduce her coffee consumption (never happened). That advice was fairly typical many years ago; however, more recent research may be putting the lie to that old thinking.
A study from Harvard University in 2015 revealed that people who drank three to five cups of coffee daily were less likely to experience premature death from any cause. And more specifically, those 3-5 cup drinkers were less likely to die from cardiac disease or stroke compared to folks who drank no coffee or very little coffee. The conclusion reached by the researchers was that people who drink coffee in moderation are better off in terms of cardiovascular health than those who don’t drink coffee.

(A brief interlude about coffee cups: please note that a cup of coffee (8 ounces) is generally not the same as a mug of coffee. A standard mug equals about two cups of coffee (16 ounces), and if your mug looks like a soup tureen, you’re probably maxxing out your ideal coffee consumption with one filling. You know who you are…winking face)

How does coffee help our cardiovascular system? There’s still plenty more research to be done, but it seems that coffee contains some compounds (other than caffeine) called phytochemicals that help reduce inflammation, and that’s a good thing for the heart. According to Dr. Christine Jellis of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, “There’s thought to be an inflammatory component underlying some causes of heart failure, atherosclerosis, and other conditions, so the anti-inflammatory properties of coffee compounds may be contributing to the perceived long-term benefits in terms of cardiovascular disease.”

We may not fully understand the inner workings of the coffee bean and its interaction with the human heart, but at least for now the research shows that drinking coffee improves your cardiovascular health and may help you live longer. Good news for coffee hounds.

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