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Can drinking coffee help prevent heart disease?

New research determined whether polyphenols in coffee can influence the prevalence of heart disease.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women, representing about one-fourth of all deaths. Many lifestyle factors, such as poor diet, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, obesity, and lack of physical activity can play a role in developing heart disease. Medical conditions like diabetes can also place individuals at a higher risk. It is important to develop healthy lifestyle habits to prevent this disease.

Recent research suggests that polyphenols, found in many plant foods, can have cardioprotective effects and help prevent heart disease. Coffee is a good source of polyphenols, and it is one of the main sources of polyphenols in the standard American diet.

A new report from Denmark published in Coffee and Health from The Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee describes some of the benefits of the polyphenols in coffee on the cardiovascular system.

Drinking three to four cups daily was associated with a 17% reduced risk of death from all causes

The analysis found that drinking three to four cups of coffee daily is associated with a 17% reduced rate of all-cause mortality compared to those who do not drink coffee. People with other levels of coffee consumption also reap the benefits, as people who consumed a cup of coffee each day had a 12% reduction in all-cause mortality compared to those who did not drink it at all. Additionally, people who drank five or more cups of coffee daily had a 10% reduced risk of all-cause mortality.

More benefits when you pair coffee with healthy lifestyle choices

The study also included decaffeinated coffee, however, there is minimal data on its effects because few participants chose to drink decaffeinated coffee. Researchers observed increased benefits of coffee consumption in people who did not smoke cigarettes, people who did not sweeten their coffee, and people who followed a Mediterranean diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fat. This suggests that the possible benefits of coffee consumption are amplified with healthy lifestyle choices.

Polyphenols in coffee may contribute to its protective effects

It is also important to note that the mechanism of the protective effects of coffee is unknown. In addition to polyphenols, coffee contains many other compounds such as caffeine, cafestol, and kahweol, and it is difficult to isolate these compounds to determine their effects. However, polyphenols have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which has been suggested to have a positive effect on cardiovascular and overall health through previous studies.

These findings suggest that coffee can potentially help reduce heart disease and all-cause mortality, and this effect is likely due to its high polyphenol content. More research is needed to determine exactly what compound has these cardioprotective effects.

For those who do not enjoy coffee should not worry as there are many foods, such as strawberries, citrus fruits, dark chocolate, red wine, and many herbs, that contain beneficial polyphenols. To prevent cardiovascular disease and be healthy, it is most important to focus on healthy lifestyle decisions.

Written by Avery Bisbee, BSc Candidate


  1. Heart Disease Facts & Statistics. (2017, November 28). Retrieved April 1, 2019, from
  2. Martinez-Gonzales, M., Porter, S., RD, MBDA, Astrup, A., Cannon, E., Dr., Benedetta Donati, M., Dr., Grosso, G., Dr., . . . Zamora-Ros, R., Dr. (2018). Roundtable Report: Coffee, Caffeine, Mortality, and Life Expectancy. Coffee and Health,1-15. Retrieved April 1, 2019, from


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