Go ahead and down a cup of Joe–just don’t make it the 20-ounce Venti variety. Drinking coffee may lower your risk of heart failure, as long as you’re not drinking too much of it, found researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
The scientists reviewed five studies that analyzed the relationship between coffee consumption and heart failure risk. Of the more than 140,000 participants included in the studies, those who regularly drank about two 8-ounce cups of coffee had an 11 percent lower risk of heart failure than those who didn’t consume the java.
However, the risk increased among study participants that averaged five or more cups a day.
“Moderation is key,” says Elizabeth Mostofsky, the study’s author and a post-doctoral research fellow at Beth Israel. (Get more easy-to-follow nutrition advice by signing up for our free Eat This, Not That! newsletter.)
So what in coffee shields your heart? Researchers think it might have something to do with java’s healthful compounds like antioxidants. “These may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, a well-known risk factor for heart failure,” says Mostofsky.
Although current heart failure prevention guidelines warn that coffee may be dangerous to heart health because it raises blood pressure right after consumption, habitual coffee drinkers develop a tolerance to the beverage’s caffeine and no longer experience this spike, she says. But don’t chug two cups of coffee as your first line of defense against heart failure, warns Mostofsky.
Researchers still need to determine the appropriate brew strength and whether caffeinated or decaffeinated works best. For cutting-edge tips to lower your heart disease risk, follow these 5 New Tips to Help Your Heart.