Coffee is a part of daily life for millions of people in the United States, including people with diabetes. But like many other foods and beverages, people with diabetes don’t all react to coffee in the same way. For some people, the caffeine in coffee can lead to blood glucose spikes — while in others, it seems to have no such effect.
One area of research, when it comes to coffee, is its effect on different forms of cardiovascular disease. Coffee, like most foods, contains thousands of different chemical compounds that can have a range of effects in your body — many of them potentially beneficial, and some of them potentially harmful. Caffeine in coffee is known to constrict your blood vessels, which may lead to elevated blood pressure in some people. But coffee also contains many powerful antioxidant compounds, which may help reduce inflammation inside blood vessels and reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis (fatty deposits in blood vessels).
A new study shows that when it comes to a common and serious form of cardiovascular disease — heart failure, in which your heart can’t adequately pump blood throughout your body — drinking more coffee may be beneficial.
To get cutting-edge diabetes news, strategies for blood glucose management, nutrition tips, healthy recipes, and more delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletter!
More cups, lower heart failure risk
The study, published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure, involved looking at a few different dietary factors in participants who took part in three different large, long-term heart health studies. Researchers were interested in any dietary patterns that were linked to a higher or lower risk of certain cardiovascular outcomes during the study period — coronary artery disease (CAD), heart failure or stroke. Each study included thousands of participants and followed them for at least 10 years.
The researchers found that a number of dietary factors were linked to higher or lower rates of the cardiovascular outcomes they evaluated. Among those with the greatest effect on outcomes were consumption of whole milk, red meat, eggs, alcohol, cheese, coffee and decaffeinated coffee. But after performing a number of statistical adjustments to try to account for other factors responsible for cardiovascular outcomes, coffee consumption was the only dietary factor that still significantly predicted any of the three outcomes.
Each cup of coffee that participants consumed each day was linked to a lower risk of heart failure (5% lower risk per cup) and stroke (6% lower risk per cup), but after performing more statistical adjustments to eliminate other possible factors, only the link to heart failure remained. In one of the three studies, though, each cup of coffee consumed was associated with a 14% reduction in the risk of heart failure. Overall, the greatest benefit was seen from consuming two cups of coffee each day, resulting in a 31% lower risk of heart failure.
The researchers also looked at caffeine intake separately, and found that for every 100 milligrams of caffeine participants consumed — the equivalent of about one cup of coffee, or two cups of black tea — they had a lower risk of heart failure, by up to 8% depending on the methods used to calculate this risk. Consuming decaffeinated coffee, on the other hand, was linked to an increased risk of heart failure — by 10% for each cup consumed each day.
Will coffee help you avoid heart failure?
While this study looked at data from observational studies — meaning that participants were simply observed doing things, rather than told or assigned what to do — the outcomes suggest that caffeinated coffee may be particularly beneficial when it comes to avoiding heart failure.
Of course, this study didn’t examine what happens when people who don’t drink coffee switch to drinking it daily — so if you don’t currently drink coffee, it’s possible you won’t get any benefit related to heart failure. There could be many factors that influence both a person’s choice to drink coffee regularly, and their risk of heart failure.
But if you already drink coffee, this study suggests that if you want the lowest possible risk of developing heart failure, there’s no reason you shouldn’t continue with your habit.
Want to learn more about coffee and diabetes? Read “Is Coffee Good for Diabetes?”