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Two cups of coffee a day cuts heart-failure risk: study review

A review of studies shows that moderate coffee consumption may reduce your risk of heart-failure. (Thinkstock)If you drink coffee regularly in moderation, you're likely reducing your risk of heart failure.

New research published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation: Heart Failure analyzed five high quality coffee-consumption studies and found that moderate coffee drinking, about two 8-ounce cups of day, is good for the heart.

"While there is a commonly held belief that regular coffee consumption may be dangerous to heart health, our research suggests that the opposite may be true," says Dr. Murray Mittleman, senior study author and director of the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

"We found that moderate consumption — which we define as the equivalent of about two typical American coffee shop beverages — may actually protect against heart failure by as much as 11 per cent," he says.

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The findings are encouraging for Canadian who love coffee. The Coffee Association of Canada reports that the average Canadian coffee-drinker consumes 2.8 cups of java a day.

There can be too much of a good thing, however, with the risk of heart problems increasing with excessive intake, Mittleman warns:

"On the other hand, excessive coffee drinking — five to six commercial coffee house cups per day has no benefit and may even be dangerous. As with so many things, moderation appears to be the key here, too."

Mittleman adds that there's "a good deal of research showing that drinking coffee lowers the risk for type 2 diabetes." Subsequently, "it stands to reason that if you lower the risk of diabetes, you also lower the risk of heart failure."

It should be noted that most coffee chains don't serve you 8-ounce cups of coffee. A typically serving is anywhere from 9 to 20 fluid ounces.

The research didn't account for brew strength or caffeination levels. The studies examined were based in Sweden and Finland where coffee tends to be stronger and almost always caffeinated, ABC News reports.

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"There is clearly more research to be done," says Mittleman. "But in the short run, this data may warrant a change to the guidelines to reflect that coffee consumption, in moderation, may provide some protection from heart failure."

Health Canada recommends that healthy adults do not exceed 400 mg of caffeine, or about three 8-ounce cups of coffee, per day.

Currently, the American Heart Association recommends people at risk for heart fair limit their coffee intake to one or two cups a day.

How many cups of coffee do you drink per day?  Tell us in the comments.

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