Well-Being Longevity

Two to three cups of coffee a day could lead to a longer life: study

“Our findings indicate that drinking modest amounts of coffee of all types should not be discouraged but can be enjoyed as a heart healthy behavior.”
People drinking coffee.
iStock.

Story at a glance


  • New data from nearly 450,000 individuals show an association between daily coffee consumption and lower risk of death from any cause.

  • The link was the strongest among drinkers of ground, decaffeinated and instant coffee, compared with non-drinkers.

  • Drinking coffee was also associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease. 

For daily coffee drinkers, there may be long-term perks of the habit alongside the morning caffeine buzz. 

A new study of nearly 450,000 UK Biobank participants found drinking two to three cups of coffee each day was associated with significantly lower risks of cardiovascular disease and death, compared with avoiding coffee. 

The association was found among drinkers of decaffeinated, ground and instant coffee, while both ground and instant coffee, but not decaffeinated, were also linked with reduced irregular heart beat. 

In the past, research has focused on the health benefits of coffee-drinking habits, but hasn’t looked into the impact of different coffee preparations, until now. 

“In this large, observational study, ground, instant and decaffeinated coffee were associated with equivalent reductions in the incidence of cardiovascular disease and death from cardiovascular disease or any cause,” said co-author Peter Kistler of the Baker Heart and Diabetes Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia in a statement.


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A total of 27,809 individuals died over the course of the study, but those who drank two to three cups of decaffeinated coffee had a 14 percent lower risk of death compared with non-drinkers. For ground coffee, risk was reduced by 27 percent. Drinkers of instant coffee had an 11 percent lower risk. 

Ground coffee was also linked with the greatest reduction in cardiovascular risk at 20 percent compared with non-drinkers. However, this risk decreased to 9 percent for instant coffee and 6 percent for decaffeinated. 

Four to five cups of ground coffee was linked with a 17 percent reduced risk of arrhythmia, or irregular heart beat. That risk dropped to 12 percent among those who drank two to three cups of instant coffee each day.

“The results suggest that mild to moderate intake of ground, instant and decaffeinated coffee should be considered part of a healthy lifestyle,” Kistler added. 

Findings were published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. All participants were between the ages 40 and 69, and researchers defined cardiovascular disease as any instance of coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure or ischaemic stroke.

Investigators compared the health outcomes of daily coffee drinkers and non-drinkers for a median of 12.5 years. All participants were free of arrhythmias and cardiovascular disease at the start of the study.

Potential protective links between coffee consumption and other diseases have been found in the past, including for Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver disease. However, the drink can lead to temporary raises in blood pressure while higher doses could result in anxiety and insomnia.  

Despite caffeine being the most well-known part of coffee, the beverage contains over 100 biologically active components, Kistler explained, noting it’s likely these non-caffeinated compounds are responsible for the health benefits observed. 

“Our findings indicate that drinking modest amounts of coffee of all types should not be discouraged but can be enjoyed as a heart healthy behavior.”

Because the majority of UK Biobank participants are white, findings may not be generalizable to other races, authors cautioned.