Drinking up to five cups of coffee a day may protect women from fatal heart attacks and stroke, according to new research from the Harvard School of Public Health.
In this study, researchers tracked the coffee drinking habits of more than 125,000 healthy men and women and assessed their risk of dying from heart disease.
After 24 years, the researchers found that women who drank two to five cups (500 to 1250 ml) of coffee a day were 26 percent less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack when compared to those who didn't drink coffee.
Women who drank the most coffee - four to five cups (1000 to 1250 ml) daily - saw the greatest reduction in heart disease risk.
Among the men, coffee drinking also lowered the risk of heart disease but the results lacked statistical significance.
Nutrition researchers say certain antioxidant compounds in coffee may reduce heart disease risk by preventing inflammation in the body and improving the function of arterial walls.
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, heart disease affects more women than men. In 1999, almost 12,000 Canadian women suffered fatal heart attacks compared to less than 9,000 men.
For more information about using nutrition strategies to prevent heart disease, check out Leslie Beck's Foods that Fight Disease.
This study was published in the June 18, 2008 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
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