Warning to coffee drinkers over heart attack risk – and it’s how you MAKE it

YOUR morning cup of Joe could be putting you at risk of a heart attack, scientists have warned.

The controversial findings serve as a warning to those who like to drink more than one coffee per day.

Naturally occurring chemicals in coffee have previously been linked with higher levels of cholesterol in the blood – a risk factor for heart problems, including stroke. 

However, there is also an abundance of science that suggests coffee consumption is good for heart health and longevity. 

In the new study, a team of academics from Norway examined information from more than 21,000 people over the age of 40 who live in Tromso, Norway.

Espresso coffee consumption was “significantly” linked to higher blood cholesterol levels, the researchers said. 

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Three to five espressos a day was the point at which cholesterol levels rose, compared to zero espressos per day.

The effect was stronger in men than women, according to the findings published in the journal Open Heart.

However, only women who sipped on six or more cups of filtered coffee had higher levels of cholesterol in the blood.

Men and women who had six or more cups of cafetiere coffee – also known as boiled/plunger coffee – also had raised levels compared with those who did not.

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There did not appear to be any risks associated with instant coffee. 

The researchers said: “Coffee is the most frequently consumed central stimulant worldwide.

“Because of the high consumption of coffee, even small health effects can have considerable health consequences.

“Increased knowledge on espresso coffee’s association with serum cholesterol will improve the recommendations regarding coffee consumption.”

Experts who were not involved in the study were cautious about its findings.

They said it may not be the coffee that threatens people’s heart health, but the sugars and milk they put with it.

And it’s impossible to know whether potential harms are caused by the coffee or other habits that are more common amongst drinkers.

For most people, a moderate amount of coffee is fine. But be careful if you like to add flavoured syrups or whipped cream, as these can increase your sugar and saturated fat intake.

Cholesterol is the fatty substance that is carried in the blood by proteins, and high levels can build up in the artery walls and reduce blood flow to the heart.

It can reach dangerous levels in response to obesity, a poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking and drinking alcohol.

June Davison, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “It’s important to remember that this type of study can only show an association and can’t prove cause and effect.

“[The researchers] didn’t account for factors such as adding milk or sugar to coffee, which could have an impact on people’s health. 

“These findings shouldn’t cause concern if you are partial to a cup of coffee – for most people, a moderate amount of coffee is fine.  

“But be careful if you like to add flavoured syrups or whipped cream, as these can increase your sugar and saturated fat intake.  

“If you are sensitive to caffeine or you experience heart palpitations (flutters or pounding), it’s best to cut down on the amount you drink.”

Prof Tom Sanders, Professor Emeritus of Nutrition and Dietetics, King’s College London, said: “It does not really matter what type of coffee you drink if you only have one or two cups a day but it is important if you drink more.”

Previous research has generally found the opposite.

For example, a 2021 study revealed 0.5 to three cups of coffee per day was associated with 21 per cent lower risk of stroke, and 17 per cent lower risk of death from heart disease.

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It backed the findings of a 2017 analysis that showed people who had three cups per day were 17 per cent less likely to die early.

The risk of heart death fell by a fifth, Alzheimer’s disease by a quarter and liver disease by more than a third.

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