Coffee: Friend or Foe?
Hello, friends! Why don’t you sit down and take a load off. I was just brewing up a nice, dark pot of coffee. Let me pour you a big, steaming cup.
Does that sound pretty good? I’ll bet for most of you reading this, it does! Often it seems like we have more to do than there are hours in a day, and the one thing that helps us power through is that our cuppa Joe! According to the National Coffee Association, 64% of Americans over 18 drink at least one cup of coffee a day. The average person drinks about 3.2 cups. But you have to wonder – how much coffee is too much? Is all that coffee good for your heart?
Well, I have great news for my fellow java-enthusiasts: current scientific research suggests that drinking plenty of coffee is in fact good for you! According to recent studies, drinking about four cups of coffee a day improves heart health. And now a new study from Germany suggests the reason why: a protein called p27.
Researchers in the German study studied mice. First they gave the each of the mice the mouse-sized equivalent of four cups of coffee a day. Then, after a week of mousey coffee consumption, they induced heart attacks in the mice. The mice that had been drinking their coffee recovered much better from the heart attacks than mice that had been caffeine-free.
It appears that the caffeine in coffee activates the p27 protein, causing it migrate into the mitochondria of certain types cells in the heart. This in turn allowed those cells to migrate more effectively to where they were needed, such as lining blood vessels or turning into heart muscle fibers. It also sped recovery after heart attacks.
In other words, the protein p27 is really good for your heart, and it loves caffeine!
One of the really interesting things that this and other studies have found is that the heart-boosting power of coffee really gets unlocked at around four cups a day. So if you are an ‘average American’ drinks about three cups a day, you might actually want to start drinking an extra cup!
Research shows that coffee drinkers are 19% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease. It also shows that drinking coffee reduces your risk of heart-attack and stroke.
Now, it’s important to remember that when these studies talk about ‘one cup of coffee’ they mean one measuring cup’s worth, not just however much coffee fits inside your giant-sized travel mug!
The good news is that for most people there probably is very little risk from drinking lots of coffee. The only exception is pregnant women: more than one or two cups of coffee a day may increase the risk of miscarriage, so if you are pregnant or think you might become pregnant you may want to slow down a little on your coffee habit.
Another thing that all of us need to keep in mind is that coffee by itself isn’t a miracle cure. If you really want to help your heart, you need to combine your coffee habit with exercise and a healthy diet.
But it’s nice to know that, for most of us, we can stop feeling guilty about our coffee addiction. So brew up another pot and enjoy!
Yours in health,
Christopher B. Renne, D.C.
4111 Atlantic Boulevard
Jacksonville, FL 32207