Harvard Heart Letter

Heart beat: Coffee: A connection to good health?

Heart beat

Coffee: A connection to good health?

Some coffee drinkers worry that their habit is a bad one "" not nearly on a par with smoking but in that general direction. Those worries are groundless. In the past few years, coffee drinking has been shown to be safe for heart attack survivors. It offers some protection against type 2 diabetes and gallstones. It is not linked to the development of heart disease. Now, in the largest, longest, and most complete study to date, overall death rates among nonsmoking coffee drinkers were no higher than they were among nonsmokers who didn't drink coffee, and may even have been a touch lower (Annals of Internal Medicine, June 17, 2008).

Drunk black and bitter, coffee is a calorie-free beverage brimming with antioxidants. It eases artery-damaging inflammation and delivers a host of substances that help the body regulate blood sugar and dissolve gallstones.

Of course, coffee isn't a health food. The caffeine it contains is addictive. In some people, it causes the occasional missed or extra heartbeat or a speedup in the heart's rhythm. Espresso and other unfiltered coffee can slightly increase the level of harmful LDL cholesterol.

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 »