Sip your coffee with peace of mind: A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association has found that caffeine doesn't cause heartbeat irregularities, despite what we've heard in the past.
Researchers at the University of California San Fransisco assessed the coffee, tea and chocolate intake of 1,388 healthy men and women over a year-long period. During this time, participants also wore a portable device that monitored their heart rhythm 24 hours a day.
Sixty-one percent of participants reported drinking or eating more than one caffeinated item every day, yet the heartbeat monitors did not detect extra heartbeats in those who ingested higher amounts of caffeine. This led researchers to conclude that caffeine intake has little effect on heartbeat.
Why is this important? Previous research found a link between caffeine consumption and cardiac arrhythmia, a condition in which the heartbeat is out of rhythm. It may sometimes increase the risk of stroke and heart failure. But if further research backs up this new study, it'll be important news to spread: Some people might be missing out on serious health benefits found in certain caffeinated products -- most notably, coffee.
"We may unnecessarily be discouraging consumption of items like chocolate, coffee and tea that might actually have cardiovascular benefits," study author Dr. Gregory Marcus said in a press release.
But before you start loading up on caffeine, the researchers noted that the health risks associated with consumption need more research. "Whether acute consumption of these caffeinated products affects extra heartbeats requires further study," said Shalini Dixit, another one of the study's authors.
Still, coffee in particular boasts some serious health benefits: It's a great natural source of antioxidants, it can boost happy feelings and it might even make you a better athlete. If you're a habitual coffee drinker, probably none of this is news to you.
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