People who drink three to five cups cups of coffee a day were less likely to have early signs of heart disease according to a Korean study published in the journal Heart The findings reopen the debate about whether coffee is good for the heart.
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.
In the study, the researchers used medical scans to assess heart health and were looking specifically 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 displayed any 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.
Victoria Taylor of the British Heart Foundation said: “We need to take care when generalising these results because it is based on the South Korean population, who have different diet and lifestyle habits to people in the UK.”