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By Nancy Clanton, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Troy Warren for Hometown Hall

February is American Heart Month, and you might have helped your heart today without even realizing it.

An analysis by the American Heart Association of three major studies found drinking one or more cups of black coffee a day lowered the risk of heart failure on a long-term basis.

There’s a catch, though. The coffee can’t be decaf.

“Heart disease — and the conditions that lead to it — can happen at any age,” according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “High rates of obesity and high blood pressure among younger people (ages 35–64) are putting them at risk for heart disease earlier in life.”

According to the CDC, nearly half of all Americans have at least one of the top three risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking.

The Amercian Heart Association investigated the diet domain in the Framingham Heart Study, Cardiovascular Heart Study and the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study to identify potential lifestyle and behavioral factors associated with coronary heart disease, heart failure and stroke.

The three studies include dietary information on more than 21,000 people.

The AHA used “machine learning feature selection based on random forest analysis to identify potential risk factors associated with coronary heart disease, stroke, and HF in FHS,” it wrote. It then compared those findings to the other two studies.

When compared with people who don’t drink coffee, the AHA found that every cup of black, caffeinated coffee consumed lowered the risk of heart failure 5-12% over time.

Heart failure risk was unchanged for those who drank no coffee or only one cup. The analysis also found a link between decaf and a higher risk of heart failure.

Be aware that cream, sugar, flavors or other additives that add calories, sugar and fat will likely negate any heart benefits from black, caffeinated coffee, the AHA said.


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