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Coffee May Lower Risk of Arterial Blockage

A recent study suggests that drinking between three and five cups of coffee a day may lower the risk of coronary artery calcium build-up. Coronary artery calcium build up serves as an early indicator of coronary atherosclerosis, which increases the risk of blood clots and heart attack. 


Participants in the study included 25,138 Korean adults with an average age of 41.3 years. All of the participants filled out a 103-item dietary survey that included questions about how often they consumed different food and drink over the previous year. The questionnaire included three categories of portion size (small, medium, large) and nine categories of frequency.  These nine categories ranged from never to seldom to more than three times daily for foods and from never to seldom,to more than five times daily for drinks.


The researchers found that drinking between three and five cups of coffee per day was associated with a lower risk of coronary artery calcium. They noted a U-shaped, inverse association with amount of coffee consumed and risk of coronary artery calcium buildup.


Researchers from Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US, and the University of Malaya in Malaysia conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on March 2, 2015 in the journal Heart.


The health benefits associated with coffee are generally attributed to the powerful antioxidants found in coffee called polyphenols. These benefits include reducing the risk of developing diabetes, prostate cancer, cirrhosis and oral cavities.


One note to coffee drinkers: be careful how you take your coffee. A double latte with whipped cream and three sugars may provide the health benefits seen here, but the high fat and sugar content can have other negative effects.

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