For many people, myself included, coffee is a permanent fixture in the morning routine, and while one, maybe two cups a day will usually be enough for me, everyone is different, but just how much coffee a day is too much?
While many studies have shown there are benefits to drinking coffee, such as links to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes in women and a longer life expectancy, new research from the University of South Australia (UniSA) reveals there is a limit to when cups of coffee begin to become the opposite of beneficial.
According to the new research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, drinking six or more cups of coffee a day can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 22 per cent – that's quite significant.
In New Zealand, heart disease is the number one cause of death and major cause of disability – every 90 minutes a New Zealander dies from heart disease, with many of these deaths premature and preventable.
Wanting to find out the long-term effects of coffee consumption and cardiovascular disease, UniSA researcher Dr Ang Zhou and Professor Elina Hyppönen from the Australian Centre for Precision Health explain that the results of their research shows the point at which too much caffeine can cause high blood pressure – one of the precursors to heart disease.
"Coffee is the most commonly consumed stimulant in the world – it wakes us up, boosts our energy levels and helps us focus," Professor Hyppönen explains.
"But people are always asking 'How much coffee is too much?'
"Most people would agree that if you drink a lot of coffee, you might feel jittery, irritable or perhaps even nauseous – that's because caffeine helps your body work faster and harder, but it is also likely to suggest that may have reached your limit for the time being," Professor Hyppönen adds.
"We also know that cardiovascular disease increases with high blood pressure, a known consequence of excess caffeine consumption.
"In order to maintain a healthy heart and a healthy blood pressure, people must limit their coffees to fewer than six cups a day – based on our data six was the tipping point where caffeine started to negatively affect cardiovascular risk."
For the study, Dr Zhou and Professor Hyppönen used UK Biobank data of 347,077 participants between the ages of 37 and 73, to explore whether people who carry the gene which metabolises caffeine faster, CYP1A2, still have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Their results found that despite the fact the carriers of the gene variation were able to metabolise the caffeine four times faster, the research did not support the belief that these people can safely consume more caffeine than those who don't carry the gene, without risks to their health.
Professor Hyppönen say three billion cups of coffee are enjoyed every day around the world, so knowing the limits of what's good for you and what's not, is incredibly important.
"As with many things, it's all about moderation; overindulge and your health will pay for it."
So there you have it – keep to less than six cups of coffee a day, and you'll be A-OK!
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