2 - 3 Cups of Coffee Per Day Doubles the Risk of Death in Those with Grade 2 Hypertension (High Blood Pressure), but No Risk from Green Tea Intake
Source: American Heart Association Study (December 2022)
Lifestyle Medicine Update (December 27, 2022)
An abundance of research in recent years has shown that regular consumption of caffeinated coffee can help reduce the risk of age—related dementia, liver cancer, and non-alcohol-induced fatty liver problems or NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1665268120301691#:~:text=Studies%20have%20shown%20that%20high,diagnosed%20with%20NASH%20%5B28%5D. Caffeine, from coffee and tea, also turns-off the mTOR pathway, an effect that is strongly linked to reducing the risk of several common cancers, such as stomach and colon cancer.
Caffeine is also an antioxidant and immune system modulator. It has also been shown to reduce the release of inflammatory chemicals (cytokines) seen in many types of arthritis, and through various signaling pathways within cells caffeine is shown to help kill emerging tumor cells and demonstrates other impressive anti-cancer properties (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1665268120301691#:~:text=Studies%20have%20shown%20that%20high,diagnosed%20with%20NASH%20%5B28%5D.)
As well, caffeine also switches on our longevity genes (Sirtuin 1 gene), which helps the body burn fat more effectively, increases the production of new energy factories in our brain cells (mitochondria biogenesis), and helps inhibit the release of inflammatory chemicals (cytokines) associated with arthritic and other conditions (heart disease). Sirtuin 1 activity also increases insulin sensitivity, which helps to improve blood sugar (glucose) regulation in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Sirtuin 1 activity is also shown to improve blood cholesterol and lipid levels, and thus, is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. As well, increased Sirtuin 1 activity increases DNA repair and lengthens telomeres at the ends of our DNA strands, which are effects associated with cancer prevention and anti-aging. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9181040/)
So, there have been a lot of impressive studies in recent years showing the health benefits of regular coffee consumption. But is caffeinated coffee safe to drink if you have high blood pressure (hypertension)? We know that caffeine is also a stimulant, which means it can potentially elevate heart rate and blood pressure. Well, a large study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in December 2022 has helped to answer that question. The study looked at data from over 18,000 subjects (ages 40-75) living in Japan (65% women) and followed these individuals for 19 consecutive years. After assessing blood pressure measurements over the years and looking at subjects’ caffeine intake from coffee and green tea, the researchers noted that greater coffee consumption (2-3 cups per day) was associated with having double the risk of death from cardiovascular disease in subjects who had a blood pressure reading at or above 160-179 over 100-109 mm Hg (grade 2 hypertension), compared to subjects with similar blood pressure readings who did not drink coffee. No association between coffee consumption and cardiovascular disease deaths was observed in patients with normal or high normal blood pressure or in those with grade 1 hypertension (high blood pressure).
So, normal blood pressure is a reading of less than 130 over 85 mm Hg, high normal is 130-139 over 85-89 mm Hg, and grade 1 hypertension (high blood pressure) is a reading of 140-159 over 90-99 mm Hg. Interestingly, green tea consumption (although it contains caffeine) was not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease deaths in patients with normal blood pressure or any degree of high blood pressure – making it a safer choice for those with high blood pressure problems. Remember that green tea also contains EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which like caffeine, also activates Sirtuin longevity genes, and in turn, results in increased fat burning, support of memory function, and provides a host of impressive anticancer properties, some of which have been proven in patients with certain cancers or precancerous conditions Some studies show that EGCG from green tea and green tea extract supplements can also improve blood sugar (glucose), cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as I have commented on in previous Lifestyle Medicine Updates. So, for most people, two to three cups of caffeinated coffee per day can provide some impressive health benefits, as can green tea and likely black tea consumption. But for those with high blood pressure, it appears that they should avoid caffeinated coffee, and possibly use green tea as an alternative caffeinated beverage. Remember of course, and as the researchers commented in their Medscape interview, adding cream and sugar (not to mention whipped cream and chocolate) to these drinks very much detracts from their health benefits and is likely to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease by raising blood cholesterol and blood sugar (glucose) levels.
I have included the references and links for the American Heart Association Journal study and the Medscape review article of this study, in the text below
Teramoto M et al. Coffee and green tea consumption and cardiovascular disease mortality among people with and without hypertension. J Am Heart Assoc (December 21, 2022) https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/986018?src=wnl_recnlnew1_ous_221226_MSCPEDIT_&uac=342474MN&impID=5032436#vp_2:~:text=No%20associations%20between,total%20cholesterol%20level.
Medscape: Greater Coffee Intake in Severe HTN Tied to Higher CV Mortality. Marilynn Larkin (December 22, 2022) https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/986018?src=wnl_recnlnew1_ous_221226_MSCPEDIT_&uac=342474MN&impID=5032436#vp_2:~:text=No%20associations%20between,total%20cholesterol%20level.
Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.