Heavy drinkers of coffee have been said to suffer from the negative effects of coffee that has often been claimed to be the effect of caffeine in the coffee. Caffeinated coffee has been found to boost blood levels of homocysteine, a protein component associated with an increase risk of heart disease. However, a new study by Dutch researchers that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition claims that caffeine might not be the only ingredient in coffee that is responsible for negative effects of coffee.
Researchers involved 48 volunteers in the study who were heavy coffee drinkers (at least six cups each day) with no history of heart or gastrointestinal disease. All volunteers were given about 4 cups of filtered coffee each day; an equivalent amount of caffeine (870 milligrams) in capsules or a sugar pill in a cycle of three treatment periods that extended for two weeks. During each treatment period, blood levels of homocysteine, caffeine, and B vitamins were measured. Volunteers were asked to refrain from all other caffeine-containing products - chocolate, cocoa, cola, tea, and certain medications - during the course of the study.
Researchers found that though both coffee and caffeine capsules raised homocysteine levels, coffee had a much greater effect than caffeine alone. While caffeine capsules raised homocysteine levels by 5%, coffee led to an increase of 11%, compared with the effect of the sugar pills. This suggests that coffee contains multiple substances that affect the body and possibly play a role in increasing homocysteine levels. While some substances appear to be captured by the paper of a coffee filter, others - like caffeine - filter through to the brewed coffee. The authors suggest that the metabolism of one of these substances may slow down the body's ability to clear homocysteine from the bloodstream.
The researchers concluded that though this finding may make caffeine less villainous, it is still advisable for coffee lovers to stick to moderation, which means only 2 to 3 cups a day!