Harvard Men's Health Watch

Coffee and your arteries

Wise lifestyle choices pay off for men, earning them enhanced vigor and longer lives. Prudent choices also pay off for stand-up comics, providing easy targets that earn loud laughs. The jokes often take advantage of the notion that anything that feels good or tastes good must be bad for you.

So it is with coffee. Its appeal is undeniable; about 150 million Americans drink coffee every day, together consuming some 400 million cups a day. Coffee is popular because it tastes good, and it makes most people feel better. Perhaps that's why it's been blamed for innumerable woes. It's true that some people experience symptoms such as nervousness, a racing heart, headaches, insomnia, heartburn, and excessive urination after just a cup or two. And it's also true that coffee can boost blood pressure, but the rise is small and short-lived, and people who drink coffee regularly are largely spared from even this modest hit.

Coffee has also taken the rap for more serious illnesses, ranging from heart attacks and strokes to cancer of the pancreas. Careful studies have debunked these fears, but lingering concerns persist, particularly regarding coffee's cardiovascular effects. That's why coffee lovers will welcome a study that makes coffee seem a bit sweeter; the research was conducted in Israel, where coffee is nearly as popular as in the U.S. To understand the experiments, though, we should first review how your arteries are built and how they work.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »