Here's another health benefit to add to the growing list of coffee's many attributes: A small study has found that a cup of coffee perks up blood vessels and helps them work better.
The findings, presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association in Dallas this week, may explain how coffee might benefit the heart and other vital bodily functions.
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"This gives us a clue about how coffee may help improve cardiovascular health," said lead researcher Masato Tsutsui, M.D., a cardiologist and professor in the pharmacology department at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan.
"If we know how the positive effects of coffee work, it could lead to a new treatment strategy for cardiovascular disease in the future."
The findings are based on a study of 27 healthy adults that found drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee significantly improved blood flow in a finger — a measure of how well the inner lining of the body's smaller blood vessels work. Specifically, coffee drinkers had a 30 percent increase in blood flow over a 75-minute period, compared to decaf drinkers.
Previous studies have linked coffee to lower risks of dying from heart disease and stroke, among other health benefits.
Compared to decaf, caffeinated coffee slightly raised participants' blood pressure and improved vessel inner lining function, suggesting caffeine may help open blood vessels and reduce inflammation.
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