A new study by researchers at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, reveals that drinking at least three cups of coffee each day would reduce the risk of clogged arteries, or atherosclerosis.
What are the real benefits of coffee on health? While scientists’ works on the famous beverage regularly follow each other and usually contradict each other, a new study claims that eating coffee every day could protect the health of our heart.
Led by researchers at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, and recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the study reveals that drinking three cups of coffee a day would reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, that is, to say obstruction of the arteries.
Calcium, responsible for the obstruction of the arteries
Atherosclerosis is a disease of the arteries that is characterized by the appearance of “atheroma plaques” on the walls of the arteries, plaques composed of fatty substances, fibrosis and calcium deposits that shrink the light and blood flow inside the artery. The risk is of a severe obstruction, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Among the fatty substances that make up the atheromatous plaque are a number of substances in the blood, including calcium. According to Dirce M. Marchioni, of the School of Public Health of the University of São Paulo, it is this accumulation of calcium in the coronary arteries that coffee attacks.
The research team analyzed data from 4,426 adults, on average 50 years old and living in São Paulo. They submitted a questionnaire on their diet to determine how much coffee they absorbed daily.
The study participants were then divided into three groups based on these results: those who drank less than a cup of coffee a day, those who ate one to three cups a day, and those who drank more than three per day. All were also scanned for calcium accumulation in their coronary arteries. As a result, people who drink at least three cups of coffee a day are less likely to have coronary calcification, compared to those who consume fewer than one, or between one to three cups daily.
Coffee is only beneficial for non-smokers
After further analysis, the researchers found that this association was significant only for people who had never smoked. Specifically, non-smoking participants consuming at least three cups of coffee a day had a 63% lower risk of coronary calcification. Conversely, drinking coffee does not seem to affect calcium accumulation in old and current smokers.
“It is possible that the deleterious effects of smoking exceed the benefits of coffee intake on early cardiovascular lesions,” speculates the scientific team, which explains that “this impact of coffee only occurs in people who have never smoked “.
The researchers note that because their study is observational, it can not prove the cause and effect between coffee consumption and calcium accumulation. Yet, they argue, this suggests that regular coffee consumption may “have a potential beneficial effect against coronary calcification and the risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly in non-smokers”. Further work must also be done to confirm the results of the study.