Flashback Friday: Coffee and Artery Function

Flashback Friday: Coffee and Artery Function

November 4, 2019 76 By Jose Scott


“Coffee and Artery Function” There are dietary guidelines for food,
but what about for beverages? A Beverage Guidance Panel was
assembled to provide guidance on the relative health and nutritional benefits
and risks of various beverage categories. They ranked them from 1 to 6,
and water ranked #1. Soda ranked last at #6. Whole milk was grouped with beer, with a
recommendation for zero ounces a day, in part out of concern for links
between milk and prostate cancer, as well as aggressive ovarian
cancer thanks to IGF-1. #2 on the list, though, after water,
was tea and coffee, preferably without
creamer or sweetener. Even without creamer, though, lots of unfiltered
coffee can raise cholesterol levels, but the cholesterol-raising compounds are
trapped by the paper filter in brewed coffee, so filtered coffee
is probably better. About 10 years ago a study was
published on the effects of coffee on endothelial function –
the function of our arteries. Within 30 minutes of
drinking a cup of coffee there is a significant drop in
the ability of our arteries to dilate, whereas decaf did not seem to
have a significant effect. This was the first study to demonstrate
an acute unfavorable effect on arterial function
for caffeinated coffee, but one cup of decaf didn’t
seem to affect performance. And two cups of decaf appeared
to have a beneficial effect. So maybe it’s a battle between
caffeine and antioxidants. Something in caffeinated coffee appears
to be hurting arterial function, whereas something in decaf appears to
be helping—maybe the antioxidants. It’s like the story with red wine. De-alcoholized red wine significantly
improves arterial function, so there’s grape components
trying to help, but the presence of alcohol
counteracts and erases the benefit. Drinking really high antioxidant coffee,
by preparing it Greek style, for example, where you actually drink
some of the grounds, may actually offer
an advantage. That something in caffeinated coffee
that appears to hurt, though, may NOT be the caffeine. In a randomized, double-blind,
placebo-controlled, cross-over study, researchers found that caffeine
alone—about 2 1/2 cups of coffee worth— —significantly IMPROVED arterial function in
both people without and with heart disease. See coffee contains more than a thousand
different components other than caffeine, many of which are also removed
by the decaffeination process, so there must be something else in the
coffee bean that’s causing the problem. In fact, caffeine may even enhance the repair
of the fragile inner lining of our arteries, by enhancing the migration of
our endothelial progenitor cells, the stem cells that patch up potholes
in our artery walls, one could say. But how might we get the
potential benefit of caffeine without the risky compounds
in caffeinated coffee? Tea. Tea consumption enhances
artery function. Substantial beneficial effects from
both green tea and black tea. Instead of other components in tea leaves
undermining caffeine’s potential benefits, they appear to boost the
benefit in healthy individuals, as well as heart
disease patients, reversing some of their
arterial dysfunction, both immediately and
in the long term. Now all the measurements in
this and the other studies were done on the brachial artery,
the main artery in the arm, just because it’s
easier to get to. What we care about, though,
is blood flow to the heart. And caffeine appears to impair
blood flow to our heart muscle during exercise even
in healthy folks, but especially those
with heart disease. Thankfully caffeine in tea form
appears to have the opposite effect, significantly improving
coronary blood flow, suggesting that tea consumption has a
beneficial effect on coronary circulation, though the addition of milk may
undermine the protective effects.