Why a Cardiologist Says Coffee Might Be the โ€˜Idealโ€™ Form of Caffeine


If you were to ask me, coffee nears the top of the list of best gifts that nature has to offer. From the warm aroma and zippy flavor to the energetic buzz you get sip after life-giving sip, all variations of coffee are a perfect 10 in my book. That said, if you were to ask an actual medical professional if coffee is the superior way to caffeinate, they might have some other ideas that could burst my bubbleโ€ฆ or, conversely, perhaps even join me in my ride-or-die coffee fandom.

To see if coffee reigns supreme as the healthiest way to caffeinate, I checked in with Kaustubh Dabhadkar, MD, a preventive cardiologist based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The unique health benefits of coffee

Caffeine is just one of the multiple compounds naturally found in coffee lending its beneficial properties that impact nearly all organ systems. However, Dr. Dabhadkar says that coffeeโ€™s benefits as they relate to brain health and cognition are the most vetted and well-studiedโ€”not only due to its caffeine content but also its antioxidants such as chlorogenic acid. One 2023 study published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience investigated the effects of drinking coffee versus caffeinated water in 47 healthy adults. While participants in both groups experienced heightened readiness from a rested state to carrying out tasks, only the coffee group showed boosted connectivity in networks linked to working memory, cognitive control, and goal-directed behavior. โ€œBesides caffeine, the additional compounds in coffee assist in preparing the brain for activity,โ€ says Dr. Dabhadkar.

Coffee also gets the green light on the cardiovascular and metabolic fronts. Caffeine โ€œcan increase blood flow to the heart, reduce fat production, and reduce the adverse effects of sugar on the body,โ€ Dr. Dabhadkar explains. Moreover, a large 2022 study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that ground and instant coffee drinkers (including decaf), namely at two to three cups per day, have significant reductions in cardiovascular disease and mortality than those who abstain from java.

“Caffeine can increase blood flow to the heart, reduce fat production, and reduce the adverse effects of sugar on the body. But the additional compounds in coffee assist in preparing the brain for activity, too.” โ€”Kaustubh Dabhadkar, MD, preventive cardiologist

If you want coffee to work as a magical elixir of sorts, Dr. Dabhadkar offers a few guidelines. โ€œThe benefits of coffee can be seen even with one to two cups of gradually consumed coffee every day,โ€ he shares. He also warns that you may risk heart rhythm issues if you chug your coffeeโ€”not to mention some digestive upsetโ€”so slow and steady wins the caffeinating race.

Excess caffeine intake (upwards of 1.2 grams, but perhaps lower based on your own caffeine tolerance and health condition) is also a no-go. โ€œIt is important to listen to your body,โ€ the cardiologist emphasizes. โ€œIf coffee causes abnormal awareness of your heartbeat, consider slowing down or reducing coffee intake.โ€

Of course, youโ€™ll also want to dial back if coffee triggers anxiety, nervousness, digestive discomfort, or other health issues.

Soโ€ฆ Is coffee the ideal way to caffeinate?

All things considered, Dr. Dabhadkar praises coffee for its wide-ranging benefits across heart health, cognition, and overall wellness and longevity. (And thatโ€™s not only because heโ€™s a self-professed “coffeeholic” himself.) โ€œWe know from prior studies that decaf shares some of the health benefits of coffee, so overall, coffee is beneficial even without the [full amount of] caffeine,โ€ he shares. โ€œHence, coffee may be the ideal way to be caffeinated.โ€

That said, we canโ€™t skip over green tea, another antioxidant-rich powerhouse beverage for cardiovascular health, longevity, and then some (including anti-cancer properties). It, too, can improve cognition and brain health in part thanks to high flavonoid content and anti-inflammatory prowess. Green tea has significantly less caffeine than coffee (at around 28 milligrams per 8 ounces, versus brewed coffeeโ€™s 96 milligrams). From that alone, it could very well be someone elseโ€™s preferred way to perk up without jolting their system too muchโ€ฆ or if they simply prefer green teaโ€™s mellow, earthy taste.

In one UK study of nearly a half-million adult participants, those who drank one or two cups of coffee plus two to four cups of green tea as part of their daily lifestyle had a 22 percent lower mortality risk.

In truth, thereโ€™s no real need to single out one or the other as the be-all, end-all caffeinated bev. Both have vast bodies of research backing up their lengthy lists of health benefits, and theyโ€™re also Blue Zonesโ€“approved for longevity.

Even better, they play *very* nicely together as part of a well-rounded drink lineup and healthy diet at large: In one UK study of nearly a half-million adult participants, those who drank one or two cups of coffee plus two to four cups of green tea as part of their daily lifestyle had a 22 percent lower mortality risk. With those odds, the pairing surely works for me.


Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.


  1. Chen, Y., Zhang, Y., Zhang, M.ย et al.ย Consumption of coffee and tea with all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a prospective cohort study.ย BMC Medย 20, 449 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-022-02636-2

  2. Neshatdoust, Sara et al. โ€œHigh-flavonoid intake induces cognitive improvements linked to changes in serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor: Two randomised, controlled trials.โ€ย Nutrition and healthy agingย vol. 4,1 81-93. 27 Oct. 2016, doi:10.3233/NHA-1615

  3. Basu, Arpita, and Edralin A Lucas. โ€œMechanisms and effects of green tea on cardiovascular health.โ€ย Nutrition reviewsย vol. 65,8 Pt 1 (2007): 361-75. doi:10.1301/nr.2007.aug.361-375

  4. Musial, Claudia et al. โ€œBeneficial Properties of Green Tea Catechins.โ€ย International journal of molecular sciencesย vol. 21,5 1744. 4 Mar. 2020, doi:10.3390/ijms21051744




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