Pensioners should drink four cups of coffee a day to protect and repair their heart muscle, research suggests.
Levels of caffeine, equivalent to drinking four cups of coffee, could help to protect healthy blood vessels and repair the heart after a heart attack, a study claims.
The stimulant boosts a protein known to be important in regenerating heart cells, and which could also protect them from damage.
Caffeine is thought to lower the risk for diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke, but the reasons for this are not well understood.
German researchers now think caffeine may make cells which line the arteries and veins healthier, improving their ability to resist or recover from damage.
The scientists say their findings ‘should lead to better strategies for protecting heart muscle’, and another expert called the results ‘very interesting’.
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They suggest caffeine could particularly benefit elderly people, whose hearts may be naturally weaker and more at risk of damage.
Research by Heinrich-Heine-University and the IUF-Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Dusseldorf, Germany, discovered the health-boosting effects of caffeine on heart cells.
They found the drug – which is also found in tea and soft drinks like Coca Cola – improves the function of cells lining the heart and blood vessels.
It does this by encouraging the movement of a vital protein – called p27 – into the cells.
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Caffeine also strengthens mitochondria, which give cells their energy, so they are more able to keep cells healthy and protect them, the study says.