It seems like coffee has taken a backseat to other caffeinated beverages, as every woman we follow (Emily Weiss, Eva Chen, and more) sings the praises of matcha. How could we not get on the matcha bandwagon when we're seeing Instagrammable spots like Cha Cha Matcha popping up on our feeds? And with reports saying coffee is bad for you, and others saying coffee is actually good for you, coffee hasn't really gotten great PR in recent years. Now that might change, thanks to a study that claims drinking up to 25 cups of coffee a day isn't as bad for our arteries, heart, and circulatory system as we previously thought.
The study, from Queen Mary University of London and partly funded by the British Heart Foundation, found that drinking coffee does not cause stiffening of arteries. When your arteries are stiffened, it can cause your heart to work faster, which might increase your chance of a heart attack or stroke.
Researchers separated the 8412 participants from the UK into three different categories: people who drink less than one cup a day, those who drink between one and three cups, and those who drink more than three (but no more than 25). Participants underwent MRI heart scans and infrared pulse wave tests, and researchers corrected for factors like age, gender, ethnicity, smoking status, height, weight, how much alcohol someone drank, what they ate and high blood pressure. From these observations, they found that when comparing people who drank very little amounts of coffee and those who drank up to 25 cups a day, there was no increase in stiffening of arteries.
But does that mean you can enjoy almost endless refills of your favorite roast? Kenneth Fung, who led the data analysis, told CNN that they weren't advising people to up their intake to 25 cups a day. Instead, researchers hoped people would use the findings to get more clarification on the effects of coffee consumption.
"There are several conflicting studies saying different things about coffee, and it can be difficult to filter what we should believe and what we shouldn't," Professor Metin Avkiran, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said in a press release. "This research will hopefully put some of the media reports in perspective, as it rules out one of the potential detrimental effects of coffee on our arteries."
Of course, moderation is key, according to dietitian Farah Fahad, MS, RDN. "I think all research should be viewed in context," Fahad told THE/THIRTY. "This study is particularly looking at the effects of coffee on stiffness of blood vessels. I don't think anyone should be drinking 25 cups of coffee. Anything in excess is not good for your body. I think the takeaway is if you drink coffee in moderation as part of a healthy diet, that is okay as it relates to heart health."
As for some coffee consumption best practices, Fahad says: "You should drink coffee preferably earlier in the day, before 3 p.m. I would recommend not adding sugar; adding a milk alternative is fine. Also, cinnamon or one tablespoon of coconut oil or coconut butter is a good additive."
If you're looking for ways to get your energy levels up during the day without caffeine, Fahad recommends water since "most people get tired because they are dehydrated." Additionally, other options to try are adaptogens like Glycyrrhiza and medicinal mushrooms and making sure you are eating protein to stabilize your blood sugar and keep your energy levels up.