A team of German researchers, led by molecular biologists Judith Haendeler and Joachim Altschmied, believes they have discovered how much caffeine we should drink each day to see the best benefits. According to their research, the caffeine level required for optimal heart health is about the amount a person would consume drinking four cups of coffee a day. Their study was recently published in the journal PLOS Biology.
People who drink coffee regularly seem to be less likely to die from all sorts of causes. Coffee drinking has been linked to lower rates of certain types of cancer, a reduced risk of depression, and lower rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s. One study found that people who drink three or four cups a day may be 19 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease. Now, the German researchers believe they know why coffee is associated with so many health benefits.
It has to do with the way the cells in our blood vessels react to caffeine. Caffeine can activate a protein called p27 in the mitochondria of heart cells, helping those heart cells function more efficiently. In their experiments, Altschmied and Haendeler found the mitochondria in caffeinated old rats performed as efficiently as mitochondria in healthy younger rats. The caffeine also appeared to increase the activity of the endothelial cells, which can help the heart rebuild blood vessels.
It is important to note that the study was only done using human tissues and lab mice, so the results in humans could be different. It is also important to note that everyone’s caffeine concentrations would be a little different depending on factors other than the exact amount of coffee consumed. The researchers are careful to note that they do not believe that taking caffeine pills would lead to better heart health.
While drinking coffee may be beneficial for your health, it is important to drink the beverage in moderation. Consuming large amounts of coffee can quicken your heartbeat and cause other health problems. In large enough doses, caffeine can be toxic. People battling cancer are advised to limit their coffee consumption as caffeine can make blood vessels grow, providing more oxygen to fuel tumors.