Coffee, Tea and Heart Health

Coffee, Tea and Heart Health 

by Marc Gillinov, M.D. and Steven Nissen, M.D.

Cleveland Clinic Wellness

Coffee has a bad reputation when it comes to heart health, while tea is generally accorded special healing properties. We have good news for both coffee and tea drinkers: Neither is bad for the heart.

Among people who are nothabitual coffee drinkers, the caffeine from two cups of coffee increases blood pressure by 2 to 3 mm Hg. This effect is short-lived and is usually absent among those who drink coffee regularly.

Coffee can cause a temporary increase in heart rate, but it is an uncommon cause of abnormal heart rhythms.

Boiled or unfiltered coffee contains oils that may increase total and LDL cholesterol levels, but these chemicals are removed by the filtering process, so most coffee has no effect on cholesterol.

Finally, some studies suggest that coffee contributes to arterial stiffness. However, other research suggests that two cups of coffee per day actually causes arteries to relax.

Coffee does not cause high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure and you like coffee, you can continue to drink it.

Large studies demonstrate no increased risk of coronary heart disease among coffee drinkers, whether they prefer regular coffee or decaf.

While we have no prospective, randomized comparative studies examining cardiac outcomes over ten to twenty years among people assigned to drink coffee or another beverage, there is enough evidence for us to conclude that coffee does not cause heart disease and that it can be part of a heart-healthy diet.

What about tea? It is difficult to compare coffee and tea because tea drinkers tend to have healthier diets and lifestyles when compared to coffee drinkers. So we can’t really tell you which one is better. But like coffee, both black tea and green tea have been associated with reduced risk of developing coronary heart disease in observational studies. However, the potential cardiac benefits of tea require drinking five to six cups per day.

What should you drink? The data suggest that neither coffee nor tea is bad for the heart and the possibility that both may confer cardiac benefits. Choose your drink based upon your taste preference. And if you must add a sweetener or cream, use low-calorie and low-fat varieties.