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People Who Drink More Coffee Have a Lower Blood Pressure

A picture of a cup of coffee.
Credit: Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash.
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A new study has found that people who drink two or three cups of coffee per day have a lower blood pressure than those who drink one, or none at all. The research, by scientists at the University of Bologna and the University Hospital of Bologna - Sant'Orsola Polyclinic, is published in Nutrients.

Coffee consumption and blood pressure analyzed

Approximately 10 million tons of coffee were consumed across the world between 2020 and 2021, making it one of the most popular beverages. For some time, coffee had a bad rep due to fears surrounding the effects of caffeine on human health. However, a growing amount of work is demonstrating that java drinkers might be reaping health benefits. "Caffeine is only one of the several coffee components and certainly not the only one with an active role. Positive effects on human health have indeed been recorded even among those who consume decaffeinated coffee," says Arrigo Cicero, professor at the Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences at the University of Bologna.

Cicero is the lead author of a new study that searched for associations between coffee consumption and peripheral and central blood pressure levels in Italian people.

Peripheral blood pressure vs central blood pressure

Central blood pressure refers to the pressure in the aorta, the large artery that sends blood away from the heart and to the periphery.

Peripheral blood pressure, as the name suggests, refers to the pressure in the peripheries of the body. Its measurement is usually taken at the arm.

The researchers analyzed data from a cohort of 720 men and 783 women taking part in the Brisighella Heart Study (BHS), an observational research project overseen by Claudio Borghi, professor at the Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences at the University of Bologna. The study collects information on clinical measures and self-reported lifestyle factors, including blood pressure levels and coffee consumption.

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Individuals drinking one to three cups of coffee per day were found to have lower systolic and pulse pressure, and lower peripheral and central aortic pressure. "And for the first time, we were also able to confirm these effects with regard to the central aortic pressure, the one close to the heart, where we observe an almost identical phenomenon with entirely similar values for habitual coffee drinkers compared to non-coffee drinkers," Cicero says.

Data support a positive effect of coffee drinking on cardiovascular risk profiles

Cicero and colleagues acknowledge the limitations of the study in their report, stating that self-reported data is not always wholly accurate. “Secondly, we assessed for coffee consumption regardless of the roasts, origins, or preparation methods and whether it is consumed with milk, with cream or black,” they say. “Considering that, in Italy, the use of boiled coffee and cream is negligible, and we are confident that the method of coffee consumption in the BHS cohort was overall homogenous.”

The self-reported data failed to distinguish between caffeinated vs decaffeinated coffee beverages. Discussing this factor, Cicero and colleagues state that considering the rural nature of the BHS population, “it is possible to state with good approximation that most involved volunteers regularly drink caffeinated coffee.”

"We also think that the positive effect on BP that we recorded in our population sample could be more likely related to coffee bioactive compounds different from caffeine, as also observed in other population studies,” they add.

Self-reported coffee consumption was not significantly associated with any arterial stiffness parameters. “Therefore, our data support the overall positive effect of coffee drinking on cardiovascular risk profiles of the general Italian population,” the researchers conclude.

This article is a rework of a press release issued by the University of Bologna. Material has been edited for length and content.

Reference: Cicero AFG, Fogacci F, D’Addato S, et al. Self-reported coffee consumption and central and peripheral blood pressure in the cohort of the Brisighella Heart Study. Nutrients. 2023;15(2). doi: 10.3390/nu15020312.