A cuppa a day keeps the doctor away
Coffee and tea are both staple beverages all over the world — loved by many and often used to kickstart one’s day or tide them through an afternoon lull. Not only do these drinks taste good, but recent studies have shown that, when taken in moderation, coffee and tea can help protect certain organs and benefit overall health.
Coffee or tea; what’s better for heart health? Read on to find out more about how these popular drinks could improve our cardiovascular health.
In March 2022, a collection of 3 research abstracts were published that detailed how drinking 2-3 cups of coffee daily has been shown to reduce the risk of getting heart disease by 10% to 15%. People who drank roughly 1 cup a day had the lowest risk of having a stroke or dying from cardiovascular diseases. It is also noted that coffee contains compounds that can help reduce inflammation, reduce the absorption of fat, and block receptors that can cause abnormal heart rhythms and oxidative stress.
Among the studies, one looked at the relationship between different types of coffee and how the different health outcomes they conferred. The study showed that between instant coffee, ground coffee, or decaffeinated varieties, the health outcomes were all fairly similar, and none was more beneficial than the other. In addition, one of the studies showed that among those with pre-existing arrhythmia/ any other type of heart disease, those who had a regular coffee intake (especially 1 cup a day) had a lowered risk of premature death.
What makes coffee good for heart health?
- Vitamins B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin) and B5 (pantothenic acid) help prevent heart disease, balance blood cholesterol levels and stabilise blood sugar levels respectively.
- Caffeine lowers LDL levels, also known as “bad cholesterol”, which contributes to the development of coronary artery disease (CAD).
- Magnesium is integral to keeping a healthy heart rhythm because it plays a part in transporting other electrolytes (calcium and potassium) into cells. These electrolytes affect nerve signals and ensure muscle contractions of a normal heartbeat.
- Antioxidants such as polyphenols. This includes chlorogenic acid, which has been shown to reduce blood sugar concentrations. This, in turn, reduces your risk of Type 2 Diabetes and hence, CAD.
Teas are also another popular beverage that is well-loved by many, especially for those who try to avoid the jittery effects of coffee. This is because tea is lower in caffeine.
One study published in 2009 by the Journal of Preventive Cardiology, under the European Society of Cardiology showed that tea drinkers live longer, and those who drank tea at least 3 times a week led a longer and healthier life, as drinking tea lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases and all-cause deaths. The effects were most robust among green tea and black tea drinkers.
In a study published by the Journal of the American Heart Association in 2018, it was also shown that tea helps slow the natural decrease in high-density lipoproteins (HDL), i.e. good cholesterol, which naturally occurs as we age. Reducing the age-related decrease of HDL is beneficial as it helps lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. Green tea in particular has a stronger effect over black tea, although both types of tea contain similar compounds such as polyphenols and catechins, which are antioxidants recognised for their anti-inflammatory properties.
Of all the tea varieties, green tea contains the most catechins. These antioxidants help prevent atherosclerosis because of their anti-inflammatory effects. These catechins also lower cholesterol and LDL levels.
EGCG in green tea also helps boost metabolism, making it easier to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Black tea has also been shown to lower blood sugar levels and triglycerides, increase good cholesterol and have antioxidants, which lower inflammation and protect against oxidative stress.
Other teas may also have heart-healthy benefits. For example, white tea also has flavanoids that help thin the blood, lower blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterol. Chamomile tea, on the other hand, has great restorative cardiac health benefits as it helps patients who have issues with sleeping.
Ultimately, whether it’s coffee or tea, a cup or two a day would be beneficial to your heart health. Both confer benefits such as improving one’s cholesterol profile and lowering inflammation. Regardless of the different health benefits, at the end of the day, it is all a matter of preference and what your tastes are.
In addition, it is also important to note that additives like creamer and sugar can also reduce the overall health benefits of coffee and tea. Such additives are extra calories added to the drink that can cause weight gain and make our beverages more unhealthy overall due to excess sugar and fat. As such, while we endeavour to gain the best benefits from coffee and tea consumption, we should also take note to reduce the additives we add to our beverages so as to maximise any health benefits available.
That being said, it is important to listen to your body. Don’t write off heart palpitations as “just an effect of the coffee/tea”. If you experience such symptoms, please consult a Cardiologist. Additionally, as with all things we consume, it is important to note that we take these in moderation and not compromise on other things that are sure-proof ways to improve our health, such as regular exercise, having a balanced diet, reducing alcohol use, and quitting smoking. Regular health screening and monitoring are also key in helping to ensure that we detect any diseases early, so as to minimise the risk of long-term complications and poorer health outcomes.