Chronic coffee consumption has a detrimental effect on aortic stiffness and wave reflections by Charalambos Vlachopoulos in the June 2005 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found, “Chronic coffee consumption exerts a detrimental effect on aortic stiffness and wave reflections, which may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.”1 This study shows that coffee causes its ill effects by impairing the function of the arteries, which increases the risk that these blood channels supplying the heart muscle will be compromised, leading to a heart attack.
The results of studies on the effects of coffee drinking on the risk of death from heart disease are conflicting; however, the evidence seems to indicate that at high levels of consumption this popular drug is detrimental. Besides the manner of harm found in this study, other mechanisms may account for more heart disease in coffee drinkers. There are two substances found in coffee beans, cafestol and kahweol, which raise total cholesterol, “bad” LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides.2 On average, cholesterol is increased by 10%; but very potent boiled coffee can raise total cholesterol by as much as 23% (that could mean a 50 mg/dl increase for someone starting with an average cholesterol of 210 mg/dl). Triglycerides may be increased by a similar amount. Coffee will raise the systolic blood pressure (top number) by 5 to 15 mmHg and the diastolic (bottom number) by 5 to 10 mmHg.3 People who are heavy coffee drinkers may also have a tendency to abuse themselves in other ways, such as consuming more heart damaging, high-fat, high-cholesterol foods.
Coffee drinking rightly deserves its reputation as “a bad habit.” For more help with this addiction please refer to two previous newsletters found in my archives: July 2004: Coffee - Pleasure or Pain, and October 2004: Tea Time Increases Life Time.
1) Vlachopoulos C, Panagiotakos D, Ioakeimidis N, Dima I, Stefanadis C. Chronic coffee consumption has a detrimental effect on aortic stiffness and wave reflections. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jun;81(6):1307-12.
2) Urgert R, Katan MB. The cholesterol-raising factor from coffee beans. Annu Rev Nutr. 1997;17:305-24.
3) James JE. . Critical review of dietary caffeine and blood pressure: a relationship that should be taken more seriously. Psychosom Med. 2004 Jan-Feb;66(1):63-71.
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