That foam heart on your morning latté is more than just barista art. Coffee has a positive impact on heart health, from reducing the risk of heart disease to lowering inflammation.
Coffee: Reducing the Risk of Heart Disease
According to a 2010 Dutch study that analyzed data collected from 37,514 participants over the course of 13 years, moderate coffee consumption—between two and four cups per day—reduced the occurrence of heart disease by 20 percent.
How Does Coffee Work its Magic on Your Heart?
Coffee’s heart-healthy benefits are due to antioxidants, molecules that inhibit a chemical reaction in the body called oxidation. Oxidation reactions produce chemicals known as free radicals, which, though they occur naturally in the body, can potentially damage cells. In particular, scientists point to a specific antioxidant, chlorogenic acid, which is found almost exclusively in coffee, as a primary aid in fighting cardiovascular disease.
This kind of damage to the heart—“oxidative stress”— is also linked to inflammation of the arterial wall, has been recently revealed to be the real culprit behind heart disease, as well as atherosclerosis, thrombosis and liver failure.
Caffeinate Your Workout for Better Performance
Exercise is fueled initially by glycogen, a form of glucose that serves as energy storage. When you work out for a long time, your body begins to tap into fat, a secondary fuel, to support the activity. The body can use fat for fuel as long as glycogen is also still available for use; when stores of glycogen are depleted, exhaustion occurs.
Caffeine breaks down the body’s fat stores and releases fatty acids into the bloodstream. In doing so, caffeine effectively reduces the depletion of glycogen by as much as 50%, thereby prolonging the exercise period by “sparing” glycogen for later utilization. In workout terms, this means that you can run for longer periods of time without feeling fatigued.
Whole Body Health: Benefits Beyond Heart Goodness
Coffee is not just good for your ticker alone. A 2009 study directly linked coffee consumption to a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes; in fact, scientists found that the more coffee you drink, the lower your diabetes risk. Coffee is also a significant brain booster. Caffeine has been shown to increase short-term memory, normalize function and prevent degeneration of the brain, and even lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in later life.