If I ask you about the world’s most popular drink, you will probably go for the coffee first. Okay! Not First? Then definitely it will set second in your list. Coffee has been maintaining a place in the human diet for about a thousand years. During much of that time, besides stimulating you, it has also stimulated a controversy, and one of them is “coffee lowers blood pressure.” Is coffee drinking harmful or beneficial? Does it have anything to do with your blood pressure? The questions have bloomed from a coffee mug to ground for serious debate.
Some of coffee’s negative press may come from the widespread belief that anything that tastes so good must be harmful to you. However, there is a serious side to the debate. It has a stimulating effect on the nervous system. Coffee increases alertness but interferes with sleep. It acts as a diuretic and stimulates the flow of urine. Coffee also stimulates the cardiovascular system and helps to boost the heart rate and may raise blood pressure. It seems that easy to reach a conclusion. But, coffee’s circulatory effects are more complex than they seem. With this article, I will try to filter out the facts from fiction.
Facts about Coffee and Caffeine
Coffee beans contain caffeine, and that makes it the biggest source of caffeine. We all know that caffeine is a psychoactive drug. In the brain, it stimulates the release of certain hormones. That’s why we get an energy kick by drinking coffee.
Caffeine is also a well-documented pressor. So, it gives a kick to the blood pressure. The increase tends to be very mild though.
Different studies and findings
Coffee has been a subject of research for many years. Several studies or researches have been presented by many experts. But, this has added more confusion to the argument, than solving it.
Medical researches regarding coffee have always been murky. Some investigations show a link between coffee drinking and hypertension. But others do not support that. A 1987 Italian investigation suggested that coffee might help to reduce the blood pressure.
Since then, many studies have shown their divergent views on the topic whether coffee lowers blood pressure or not. But, in the following segments I am going to show you two prominent works.
In 2010, Greek researchers reported that coffee might combat high blood pressure. They found that older people who have high blood pressure and drinks one to two cups of coffee per day have more elastic blood vessels comparing people who drink less or more.
With age, the blood vessels get stiffer, and that increases the risk of high blood pressure. The findings by Greek researchers suggest that moderate coffee drinking may counteract this process.
All of the participants of the research have high blood pressure. They undergo imaging scans to measure the stiffness of their blood vessels.
Place: A small Island called Ikaria, in the Aegean Sea.
Total Participant: 485 Men and Women
Age: 65 to 100 years
- No coffee or less than one cup a day: 33% of the total participants
- One to two cups a day: 56% of the total participants
- Three or more cups a day: 11% of the total participants
The result of the study
The second group who drank one to two cups of coffee a day had about a 25% greater elasticity in their major blood vessels than the first group. This result was about five times greater than the third group.
Factors like age, gender, smoking, education, physical activity, body weight, blood pressure, nutritional habits, and diabetes have taken into account that can affect the blood vessel aging have taken into account while doing the analysis.
However, one flaw of the research is that the participants had their coffee in a relaxed atmosphere. For example, they drank at home with family or in the café with friends. Therefore, the psychological benefits of socializing on heart health may affect the study.
In contrast, many experts are skeptical about the study. They say that the Greek lifestyle and Mediterranean diet could explain the result.
Another Study Worthy of Consideration
Due to divergent views, the confusion regarding the myth “coffee lowers blood pressure” is still in the air. So, scientists from the United States and Switzerland decided to take a fresh look with a new study. They performed detailed studies on 15 volunteers. All of the subjects are healthy non-smokers. None of them had high blood pressure or hypertensive parents. Only six of the subjects were habitual coffee drinkers.
The scientists monitored each subject’s blood pressure, heart rate, and sympathetic nervous system under four conditions:
- Drinking a triple espresso (before and after)
- Drinking a decaffeinated triple espresso (before and after)
- Receiving 250 mg of caffeine by intravenous injection (before and after)
- An intravenous placebo (before and after)
The result of the study
A triple espresso causes a significant jolt, and it jolted blood pressure readings. But, despite the fact that blood caffeine levels rose to a comparative degree in every one of the subjects, not all experienced a rise in blood pressure. Truth be told, espresso did not raise the blood pressure level of regular coffee drinkers. However, it raised systolic pressure on average by 13 mm Hg and diastolic pressure by 7 mm Hg in subjects who were not coffee lovers. So, you already got the correlation between caffeine and diastolic blood pressure.
Coffee is solid stuff, yet an intravenous slug of caffeine ought to be significantly more intense. For sure, blood caffeine levels rose to a similar degree after the caffeine infusions and the espresso. In any case, the straight-up caffeine had a considerably littler impact on blood pressure than the espresso, boosting systolic pressure by an average of only 6 mm Hg. Additionally, the coffee drinkers and the nondrinkers reacted likewise to intravenous caffeine.
A normal cup of coffee contains several complex substances. Caffeine gets the fault for raising blood pressure. Yet the dissimilarity among espresso and pure caffeine recommends there is something else entirely to the story. The decaffeinated espresso demonstrated the point. It didn’t raise blood caffeine levels. However, it boosted the normal systolic pressure of the nondrinkers by 12 mm Hg, practically as much as the high-test brew.
Truth Behind Coffee and Your Blood Pressure
Harvard Medical School has published the procedure and the result of the study in their Harvard Health Publishing. The study clarifies why earlier examinations created such factor results. Coffee raises blood pressure in individuals who are not accustomed to it. But, it doesn’t affect the regular coffee drinkers. Youngsters seem more sensitive to coffee. Also, the hypertensive impacts of coffee appear to rely on ingredients other than caffeine. Habitual coffee drinkers become adjusted to these ingredients, so their blood pressure doesn’t rise in excess of a point or two. However, individuals who are not used to coffee can expect an impermanent ascent in their blood pressure after drinking regular or decaf.
The studies, their result, and all the equations may appear very complex. The common scenario is coffee may not raise the blood pressure, but it can’t lower the blood pressure either. I can advise you on one very important thing. If you love coffee, drink it. But if it troubles you, just give it up.
Until we get the last scientific proof about coffee’s harm or benefits, moderation and common sense will be the best guidelines. ‘Does coffee lower blood pressure?’ or, ‘Does coffee increase blood pressure.’ don’t let these questions to brew up in arguments. This can really raise your blood pressure.