Drink THIS Daily. Prevent Heart Attacks?

Good news for java junkies! Love your coffee? Your heart may love it, too.

People who drink three to five cups of coffee a day appear to have a lower risk of developing clogged arteries, one of the top causes of a heart attack.

HealthDay News reports that researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland found that moderate coffee consumption was associated with less calcium build-up in the arteries. Calcium build-up is an early sign of hardening of the arteries and the risk for heart disease.

The study: Led by Dr. Eliseo Guallar, a professor from the department of epidemiology and medicine, the team collected data on more than 25,000 healthy South Korean men and women with an average age of 41. None of the participants showed any signs of heart disease at the beginning of the study. Yearly health examinations were conducted during which the participants were asked about the foods and beverages they consumed. Each was given a CT scan to assess how much calcium had built up in their arteries. The Hopkins researchers then compared calcium build-up with how much coffee each participant drank.

The results: The more coffee a person consumed, the lower the amount of calcium build-up. Specifically, those who drank between three and five cups of coffee a day had the least amount of calcium build-up. This held true even when such factors were counted for age, sex, smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

The study did not differentiate between regular and decaffeinated coffee, and the authors noted that decaf is not popular among Korean coffee drinkers.

There is an important caveat to know before you brew another pot of coffee: The study did not show a direct cause-and-effect relationship between coffee consumption and reduced calcium in the arteries, but the association between the two is very strong.

And while Guallar is not recommending we drink more coffee to prevent heart disease, he does say we shouldn't be concerned about drinking too much coffee. "This is a habit that is not harmful to the heart," he told HealthDay News.

Previous studies have shown that coffee also protects us from stroke and type 2 diabetes.

The study findings were published in the journal Heart.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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