BOLOGNA, Italy — If you’re a coffee lover, there’s good news for you and your heart. Italian researchers report that people who drink two or three cups of coffee per day have lower blood pressure than those who drink less.

Coffee is an integral part to the culture in Italy and is an incredibly popular drink worldwide. In 2020 and 2021, estimates show that the world consumed almost 10 million tons of coffee. Researchers haven’t always agreed on the drink’s health implications, but there’s been recent evidence suggesting that drinking coffee can lower risk of several conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even neurodegenerative and liver diseases. However, the answer of what causes these benefits remains unknown.

Caffeine is only one of the several coffee components and certainly not the only one with an active role. Positive effects on human health have indeed been recorded even among those who consume decaffeinated coffee,” explains study first author Arrigo Cicero, professor at the Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences at the University of Bologna, in a media release. “We know that caffeine can increase blood pressure, but other bioactive components in coffee seem to counterbalance this effect with a positive end result on blood pressure levels.”

To figure it out, a team of scholars analyzed a sample of 720 men and 783 women from the Brisighella Heart Study. They compared blood pressure levels, coffee consumption habits, and other clinical data points for each person.

“The results are very clear: peripheral blood pressure was significantly lower in individuals consuming one to three cups of coffee a day than in non-coffee drinkers,” Cicero explains.

Peripheral blood pressure describes blood pressure measured from the upper arm.

“And for the first time, we were also able to confirm these effects with regard to the central aortic pressure, the one close to the heart, where we observe an almost identical phenomenon with entirely similar values for habitual coffee drinkers compared to non-coffee drinkers.”

High blood pressure has strong ties to cardiovascular disease due to the high force of blood consistently pushing against the walls of blood vessels, making the heart work harder to pump blood. The findings from this study are valuable because they offer another potential nutritional avenue for lowering blood pressure and preventing cardiovascular disease.

“This is the first study to observe this association in the Italian population, and the data confirm the positive effect of coffee consumption on cardiovascular risk,” says Professor Claudio Borghi, who led the study.

The findings are published in the journal Nutrients.

About Shyla Cadogan, RD

Shyla Cadogan is a DMV-Based acute care Registered Dietitian. She holds specialized interests in integrative nutrition and communicating nutrition concepts in a nuanced, approachable way.

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