According to South Korean researchers, drinking a few cups of coffee a day may help people avoid clogged arteries – a known risk factor for heart disease.
They studied more than 25,000 male and female employees who underwent routine health checks at their workplace.
Employees who drank a moderate amount of coffee – three to five cups a day – were less likely to have early signs of heart disease on their medical scans.
The findings reopen the debate about whether coffee is good for the heart.
There is a lot of confusion when it comes to the effect of coffee on heart health.
Some studies have linked consumption to heart risk factors, such as raised cholesterol or blood pressure, while others suggest the beverage may offer some heart protection.
There is no conclusive evidence either way, and the latest research from South Korea, which is published in the journal Heart, only adds to the discussion.
In the study, the researchers used medical scans to assess heart health.
Specifically, they were looking for any disease of the arteries supplying the heart – the coronary arteries.
In coronary heart disease, the coronary arteries become clogged by the gradual build-up of fatty material within their walls.
The scan the researchers used looks for tiny deposits of calcium in the walls of the coronary arteries to provide an early clue that this disease process may be occurring.
None of the employees included in the Korean study had outward signs of heart disease, but more than one in 10 of them were found to have visible calcium deposits on their scans.
The researchers then compared the scan results with the employees’ self-reported daily coffee consumption, while taking into account other potential heart risk factors such as smoking, exercise and family history of heart problems.
People who drank a few cups of coffee a day were less likely to have calcium deposits in their coronary arteries than people who drank more than this or no coffee at all.
The study authors say more research is needed to confirm and explain the link.
Coffee contains the stimulant caffeine, as well as numerous other compounds, but it’s not clear if these might cause good or harm to the body.
How much coffee to drink?
In the US, experts say up to 400mg a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults
If you’re pregnant, you should limit the amount of caffeine you have to 200mg a day – equivalent to two mugs of instant coffee
According to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, Americans should eat a diet higher in plants, fruits and grains because it is healthier and has a lower environmental impact.
The report by medical and nutrition experts will be considered in the US dietary guidelines which determine school lunches to food package labels.
Cholesterol is now less of a concern, the report said, but added sugar should be limited to 200 calories a day.
The panel also backs moderate coffee drinking for the first time.
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), which meets every five years, said a diet high in vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds was “more health promoting and is associated with less environmental impact” than the current US diet, which is high in meat.
It is the first time the panel has made a recommendation on the environmental impact of a diet.
However, the panel’s report stops short of telling people to be completely vegetarian, saying “no food groups need to be eliminated completely to improve sustainability outcomes”.
The panel also backs away from a prior guideline to limit dietary cholesterol, in particular egg consumption.
The report now says the available evidence “shows no appreciable relationship” between heart disease and how much dietary cholesterol you eat, but still recommends eating less saturated fat.
Responding to concerns about caffeine for the first time, the panel said there was “strong evidence” that three to five cups a day can be part of a healthy diet, including reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease.
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended pregnant women limit caffeine to two cups of coffee a day.
A new research found that energy drinks packed with caffeine can change the way the heart beats.
The research team from the University of Bonn in Germany imaged the hearts of 17 people an hour after they had an energy drink.
The study showed contractions were more forceful after the drink.
The team told the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America that children and people with some health conditions should avoid the drinks.
Researcher Dr. Jonas Dorner said: “Until now, we haven’t known exactly what effect these energy drinks have on the function of the heart.
“The amount of caffeine is up to three times higher than in other caffeinated beverages like coffee or cola.
A new research found that energy drinks packed with caffeine can change the way the heart beats
“There are many side effects known to be associated with a high intake of caffeine, including rapid heart rate, palpitations, rise in blood pressure and, in the most severe cases, seizures or sudden death.”
The researchers gave the participants a drink containing 32 mg per 100 ml of caffeine and 400 mg per 100 ml of another chemical, taurine.
They showed the chamber of the heart that pumps blood around the body, the left ventricle, was contracting harder an hour after the energy drink was taken than at the start of the study.
Dr. Jonas Dorner added: “We’ve shown that energy drink consumption has a short-term impact on cardiac contractility.
“We don’t know exactly how or if this greater contractility of the heart impacts daily activities or athletic performance.”
The impact on people with heart disease is also unknown.
However, the research team advises that children and people with an irregular heartbeat should avoid the drinks.
Cracker Jacks popcorn maker is adding a new ingredient to their classic snacks – caffeine – making Cracker Jack’D a product strictly developed for adults .
Branded Cracker Jack’D, a new version of Frito-Lay’s classic ballpark snack will contain caffeinated wafers called “power bites”.
Containing 70 mg of caffeine per 2 oz package, Frito-Lay says the soon-to-be released product is developed strictly for adults.
Despite keeping their iconic baby-faced sailor and dog on its packaging, it won’t be marketed for children they said.
“The package design and appearance are wholly different from Cracker Jack to ensure there is no confusion among consumers,” Frito-Lay spokesman Chris Kuechenmeister told The Boston Globe.
“We all know kids live with adults and if kids see a Cracker Jack box, whether or not their familiar with that product, they’re very likely to pick it up,” concerned dietician Lauren Antonucci told WABC.
Lauren Antonucci is one of many already up in arms over the new product calling it inappropriate for a snack she said is typically sold to children.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has mutually accused Frito-Lay of violating regulations with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the new product.
Cracker Jack’D is a new version of Frito-Lay’s classic ballpark snack which contains caffeinated wafers called power bites
In a letter expressing their upset, the non-profit alerted the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, fearing the food could add to further caffeinated items popping up on store shelves.
“How soon before we have caffeinated burgers, burritos, or breakfast cereals?” CSPI’s executive director Michael F. Jacobson wrote in the letter sent on Thursday.
Explaining the amount of 70 mg taken from coffee beans, Lauren Antonucci reasoned it to be the “Equivalent to about one and a half cups of black tea or a cup of weak coffee or slightly less than an 8 ounce cup of coffee.”
Regardless of what may sound like a little amount to some she worries that adults get enough caffeine in their daily lives as it is.
“It’s going to be very easy for adults to go over the limits for caffeine,” she said.