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Yay! Coffee Might Actually Be Healthy (For Your Heart) 

032409_latte-art_promoScientists in Korea have released news that will make a large segment of the world’s population extremely happy: apparently, coffee (*one to five cups per day) is good for your heart and arteries!

“Heart,” a heart-related section of the British Medical Journal, published the study in question, which is only one in an ongoing trend of coffee-lauding studies that seem to be rehabilitating the beverage’s image. In fact, the Korean researchers commented that the “effect of coffee consumption on cardiovascular health has remained controversial,” and recommend further study.

In the most recent study, coffee consumption was compared to the instance of coronary artery calcium (CAC) in 25,000 subjects who underwent annual exams at Kangbuk Samsung Hospital. CAC is the occurrence of calcium deposits in an individual’s arteries, a phenomenon which can indicate oncoming heart disease. CACs also indicate coronary atherosclerosis – the clogging of arteries by fat, which increases a person’s risk for blood clotting which in turn leads to heart attack and stroke.

Test subjects filled out a food-related questionnaires, which allowed researchers to make the coffee-CAC comparisons. In the end, the study found that coffee drinking subjects had a lower prevalence of CAC than the non-coffee drinkers. The same findings were even more pronounced in subjects who drank more than one cup (3-5) of java per day. These tests also made sure to account for other factors and risks that could affect a subject’s cardiovascular health, like smoking and genetic history.

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“Our findings are consistent with a recent body of literature showing that moderate coffee consumption may be inversely associated with cardiovascular event,” the researchers summed up.

This research is significant in that it could influence consumers’ attitudes toward coffee consumption. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recently released a report that seems to agree with the Korean findings. The report claims that three to five cups of coffee a day can have serious health benefits and minimal risks associated.

“Currently, strong evidence shows that consumption of coffee within the moderate range (3 to 5 cups per day or up to 400 mg/d caffeine) is not associated with increased long-term health risks among healthy individuals. In fact, consistent evidence indicates that coffee consumption is associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in healthy adults. Moreover, moderate evidence shows a protective association between coffee/caffeine intake and risk of Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, moderate coffee consumption can be incorporated into a healthy dietary pattern, along with other healthful behaviors.”

Will Americans start drinking more coffee? Will Starbucks stock suddenly spike? Time will tell. Currently, the US per capita consumption rate sits at .93 cups of coffee per person, per day. Countries like the Netherlands report higher rates. In the meantime, it’s nice to know that there’s no need to feel guilty about that third or fourth cup.

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