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Drinking Coffee May Make Blood Vessels More Efficient

Update Date: Nov 20, 2013 12:12 PM EST

Drinking coffee gives you more than just a mental boost- it can also help make your blood vessels more efficient.

A new study of 27 adults revealed that drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee significantly boosts blood flow in fingers. Researchers said the blood flow in fingers reveals how well the inner lining of the body's smaller blood vessels work.

Researcher found that participants who drank a cup of caffeinated coffee had a 30 percent increase in blood flow over a 75-minute period compared to those who drank decaffeinated coffee.

"This gives us a clue about how coffee may help improve cardiovascular health," lead researcher Masato Tsutsui, M.D., Ph.D., a cardiologist and professor in the pharmacology department at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan, said in a news release.

Previous research suggests that drinking coffee can lower the risk of dying from heart disease and stroke, and that high doses of caffeine may improve the function of larger arteries.

Participants in the latest study were between the ages of 22 and 30 and were not regular coffee drinkers.

Researchers had each participant drink one five-ounce cup of either regular or decaffeinated coffee. Afterwards, researcher measured the finger blood flow with laser Doppler flowmetry, a non-invasive technique for gauging blood circulation on a microscopic level. The experiment was then repeated with the other type of coffee two days later.

Researchers found that compared to decaffeinated coffee, caffeinated coffee slightly raised participants' blood pressure and improved vessel inner lining function. Researchers noted that heart rate levels were the same between the two groups.

While it is still unclear how caffeine helps improve small blood vessel function, researchers said that caffeine may help open blood vessels and reduce inflammation.

"If we know how the positive effects of coffee work, it could lead to a new treatment strategy for cardiovascular disease in the future," said Tsutsui.

The latest findings were presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2013.

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