Good news for java junkies: The longest-running study of its kind shows that downing up to six (yes, six!) cups of coffee a day may be good for your heart — and we have legitimate evidence to prove it. Preliminary research presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association suggests that drinking coffee could help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Amazing news, right?
Researchers looked to the Farmingham Heart Study, the longest-running study of heart disease, and used “machine learning” to analyze data from more than 17,000 people 44 and older starting in 1948, reports New Scientist. (Machine learning is when machines are programmed to figure out how to analyze data by themselves, and it works by finding associations within large pools of data — similar to the way Netflix analyzes your viewing history to recommend shows you’ll like.)
The machine learning results indicated that for every eight-ounce cup of coffee consumed (at up to six cups a day, according to Time), the risk of developing heart failure was reduced by 7 percent and the risk of developing stroke was reduced by 8 percent. But researchers were quick to point out that the results don’t necessarily prove cause and effect, only a correlation.
“We don’t yet know if it is the coffee intake itself or another behavior that might go along with it,” study author Laura Stephens said in New Scientist. It’s possible that coffee drinkers are healthier in other ways — less overweight or more likely to exercise, for example.
Still, this isn’t the first study to show a connection between sipping coffee and staying healthy. We’ve counted down coffee’s many benefits in the past, and in February of this year, researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine found that caffeine may counter the “inflammatory process” linked to cardiovascular disease and aging.
The bottom line: The longest coffee study ever supports you continuing to enjoy your morning cup of java (and then some). Just make sure you’re choosing the right kind of coffee. Here’s the most important thing to look for in your beans, along with the 12 coffee drinks you definitely want to avoid.
What Do YOU Think?
How much coffee do you drink in a day? Do you think coffee drinkers might have healthier lifestyles than those who don’t drink coffee? Let us know in the comments below!