Coffee Is Good for You: Drinking Java Linked to Prevention of Heart Disease and Stroke

A coffee shop in Colombia. Research indicates that drinking coffee regularly could prevent heart disease. JOAQUIN SARMIENTO/AFP/Getty Images

Coffee addicts have long clung to their habit with reassurances that the beverage had powerful antioxidants in addition to stimulatory effects—and a new study offers more evidence that java is good for you.

Preliminary data indicated that drinking coffee could help reduce heart disease and stroke risk, according to a release. The study was discussed at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions, where researchers and doctors gathered to learn about the latest heart-health advancements.

Related: Eating at Night Might Be Killing You? Research Links Late Meals to Heart Disease

Using machine learning, scientists studied data from a prior long-term study that looked at diets and cardiovascular health. Those findings indicated that drinking coffee was linked to a 7 percent decrease in heart failure and an 8 percent decrease in stroke for every cup drunk per week. That was in comparison to drinking no coffee. That type of study design demonstrated an observed association but did not prove cause and effect.

To test their results, the team then compared their findings from machine learning to research using traditional analysis. They found that for two different but similar studies, the results were consistent with the machine-learning findings.

Using the same machine-learning analysis, they also found a link between eating red meat and decreased risk of heart failure and stroke, which is somewhat surprising considering past research that suggested meat-based diets could increase disease risk. However, the team wrote, the relationship was less clear, and the studies used for the analysis had various definitions of red meat.

Research on the health benefits of coffee has been murky: Researchers have difficulty identifying what it is that could make the drink healthy. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants, but the data on whether it might be a healthy drink was unclear. A study from 2012 revealed that individuals who regularly drank at least three cups of coffee per day were less likely to die from heart disease, stroke and diabetes, among other conditions.

In an article for the National Institutes of Health, lead study author Neal Freedman said the reason was difficult to nail down.

"The mechanism by which coffee protects against risk of death—if indeed the finding reflects a causal relationship—is not clear, because coffee contains more than 1,000 compounds that might potentially affect health," he said.

And while coffee does have potentially healthy compounds, it has some scary ones, too. As we previously reported, coffee contains acrylamide, thought to be a carcinogenic. Found naturally in foods, the compound is triggered by extremely high temperatures, and in the case of coffee, occurs in the roasting process.

It's important to note that for all those studies there is no indication of causation, so it could all just be a big coincidence. But that likely won't stop extreme caffeine addicts from sleeping better at night.