While those of us who have suffered from a heart attack or stroke are generally advised to avoid food and beverages containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea or soda, somewhat contrary findings and recommendations exist for the population at large. Curiously, a new meta-analysis examining coffee consumption and risk of cardiovascular events in the general population has found that moderate intake of coffee—on the order of one to three cups daily—may actually help protect against stroke.
The research team, led by Dr. Lanfranco D’Elia, of Federico II University in Naples, Italy, performed a meta-analysis of all available prospective studies that estimated baseline coffee consumption and risk of stroke in the general population, from 1966 to 2011. The main body of studies, however, was sourced from the late 2000s.
For this study, coffee consumption of research subjects was categorized as moderate (one to three cups daily), high (three to six cups daily), and very high (six or more cups daily) and compared with a reference category of subjects who either drank no coffee or just one cup daily. Eight general-population studies were included in the analysis, involving a total of 484, 757 participants.
In the pooled analysis, habitual moderate coffee consumption was associated with decreased risk of stroke, and stroke risk in the high-consumption category showed a trend in the same reductive direction. Also noted was that habitual very high coffee consumption was not associated with any effect on stroke risk, in either direction.
“The results of this meta-analysis, which included prospective studies of samples of the general population, indicate that coffee consumption is not associated with a higher risk of stroke and that actually habitual moderate consumption may exert a protective effect independently from most identifiable confounders,” concluded Dr. D’Elia.
Along with other health benefits recently observed, the case for coffee appears to be growing stronger–an interesting trend, to be sure. Until additional research suggests otherwise, those of us who have have come to rely on our morning (or afternoon, or evening) coffee can enjoy this favorite beverage with a clear conscience.