Caffeine consumed in supplements has a greater impact on blood pressure than caffeine consumed in coffee, tea or soda.
According to the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines, caffeine is consumed daily by an estimated 85 percent of adults in the United States, mainly in coffee, tea or soda. Many studies have looked for a direct link between caffeine, coffee drinking and coronary heart disease.
The results are conflicting. This discrepancy may be due to the research methods or other factors, including the fact that such high-risk behaviors as smoking and inactivity are more common in heavy coffee drinkers.
Cardiologists have traditionally advised patients to avoid caffeine. The assumption is that caffeine could both promote the development of cardiovascular disease and raise the risk of heart attack, stroke and other acute cardiac events. It’s true that caffeine does cause a short-term spike in blood pressure and stimulates the heart and vessels.
However, regular caffeine consumers can build up a tolerance to this effect, which is comparable to climbing a flight of stairs. Caffeine consumed in supplements has a greater impact on blood pressure than caffeine consumed in coffee, tea or soda.
Several recent studies have shown that caffeine consumed in moderation may be beneficial to your heart. In a 2015 study from Harvard University, published in Circulation, researchers reported that people who drank three to five cups of coffee daily were less likely to die of heart disease or stroke than those who drank little to no coffee.
The Nurse’s Health Study, a long-running study of more than 80,000 women, found a reduction in stroke risk among women who drank at least two to three cups of coffee a week. Another study published last year in the Journal of the American Heart Association found no link between caffeine intake and premature cardiac contractions, extra beats that disrupt your heart’s normal rhythm.
These studies and many more suggest that moderate caffeine intake does not adversely affect heart health. For most healthy adults, caffeine consumption can be a part of a healthy diet. Moderate caffeine intake is less than 400 milligrams daily. An eight-ounce cup of coffee has 65 to 120 milligrams of caffeine; a 12-ounce soda has 30 to 60 milligrams; and an eight-ounce cup of tea has 25 to 50 milligrams.
There are, however, some precautions to take before you ditch the decaf:
Some people are genetically slower to metabolize caffeine and may be more sensitive to caffeine’s effects. Some cardiovascular conditions, such as palpitations and anxiousness, may worsen with caffeine consumption in these people.
There are other medical reasons for avoiding caffeine — for example, it can interact with some medications. So check with your doctor first.
Caffeine is a diuretic, which flushes water from the body along with water-soluble vitamins. Small deficiencies can have a big impact on heart function. Be sure to add an extra glass of water to make up for the loss.
Caffeine is a stimulant, and stimulants can cause restless or sleepless nights. Sleep deprivation is linked to compromised health. Getting enough good sleep can help lower your risk of heart disease. Stop all caffeine intake at least six hours before bedtime.
So, if your doctor doesn’t object, go ahead and enjoy that cup of caffeinated coffee. But, keep in mind that adding cream or sugar to your coffee adds unnecessary fat and calories, which are not heart healthy.