Drinking two to three cups of coffee per day may slash the risk of developing heart problems and prolong your life, studies suggests.
Researchers analysed data from nearly 400,000 people in their 50s who did not have heart disease and followed them up for 10 years.
They found in general drinking two or three cups of coffee each day — in line with the amount consumed by the average Briton and American — was best.
These people had a 10 to 15 per cent lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, heart failure, irregular heartbeat or dying for any reason within a decade.
The benefits held regardless of whether participants drank instant or ground coffee — but decaf did not yield the same health benefits.
Researchers also looked at people who already had some form of heart disease, and discovered two to three cups a day was associated with lower odds of dying compared with not drinking any, despite concern among medics that the stimulant can worsen heart issues.
Professor Peter Kistler, an expert at the Baker Heart Institute in Melbourne, Australia, who led the study, said: ‘Our data suggest that daily coffee intake shouldn’t be discouraged, but rather included as a part of a healthy diet for people with and without heart disease.’
Researchers in Australia found those in their 50s who drank the caffeinated beverage two or three times a day were 10 to 15 per cent less likely to develop heart disease, heart failure, an irregular heart beat or die by the end of the 10-year stud
Coffee beans contain more than 100 compounds linked to lower levels of inflammation and an increased metabolism.
The researchers said these mechanisms may be some of the factors behind how drinking the beverage can boost heart health.
Researchers at the Baker Heart Institute in Melbourne studied data from the UK BioBank — a database containing health information from more than half a million Britons who were monitored for 10 years.
Those included in the database completed a questionnaire on how many cups of coffee they drank per day.
HOW MUCH COFFEE SHOULD I DRINK?
The NHS says it is fine to drink coffee as part of a balanced diet.
Besides caffeine, the drink contains many minerals and antioxidants.
Some studies have found it can reduce the risk of cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes and dementia.
However, other studies have found it can increase the risk of suffering from high blood pressure.
The NHS warns drinking more than four cups a day can increase blood pressure.
It advises switching to other non-caffeinated drinks.
In the first study, the team examined data on 382,535 people, aged 57 on average, with no heart problems.
Study results, which will be shared in full at an American College of Cardiology conference in Washington, DC, next week showed drinking two to three cups per day was linked with the biggest benefit.
Their risk of suffering from coronary heart disease, heart failure, a heart rhythm problem or dying for any reason by the end of the study was 10 to 15 per cent lower.
However, the team found those who drank one cup of coffee per day were at the lowest risk of having a stroke or dying from heart problems.
Professor Kistler, head of arrhythmia research at the Alfred Hospital and Baker Heart Institute, said there is a ‘whole range of mechanisms’ through which coffee may improve heart health and reduce mortality.
The biological compounds in coffee can reduce inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity — which reduces blood sugar — and boosts metabolism
It also reduces the gut’s ability to absorb fat and blocks receptors involved with abnormal heart rhythms.
Caffeine is also known to suppress appetite, which could lead to lower rates of obesity and its related health conditions.
In a second arm of the study, the team looked at 34,279 individuals with cardiovascular disease to determine how coffee intake affected their health.
Overall, those who drank two to three cups of coffee each day had the lowest odds of dying over the 10-year period.
And consuming any amount of coffee did not increase the risk of developing heart rhythm problems, which some doctors cite as a reason to cut back coffee intake.
Coffee is known to trigger an increase in heart rate and heart palpitations.
The team found those who had atrial fibrillation — a common type of heart rhythm problem — and drank one cup of coffee per day were nearly 20 per cent less likely to die during 10 years of follow-up compared to non-coffee drinkers.
Professor Kistler said doctors ‘generally have some apprehension’ about people continuing to drink coffee if they have cardiovascular disease or arrhythmias — an abnormal heart beat.
He said: ‘So they often err on the side of caution and advise them to stop drinking it altogether due to fears that it may trigger dangerous heart rhythms.
‘But our study shows that regular coffee intake is safe and could be part of a healthy diet for people with heart disease.’
In a third arm of the study, Professor Kistler and his team examined whether the type of coffee consumed — instead, ground, caffeinated or decaf — affected the health benefits gained from the drink.
They found the best health benefits were spotted among those who drank two to three cups a day.
Drinking decaf coffee was not linked with lower rates of arrhythmia or heart failure, but appeared to protect against other forms of cardiovascular disease.
Professor Kistler said this suggests caffeinated coffee is ‘preferable’.
The team noted that their findings did not take into account the participants’ diet — which can play a role in the development of cardiovascular disease — or whether they added cream, milk or sugar to their drink.