Studies have identified a risk of increased serum cholesterol levels from coffee, although this may depend on the method of preparation. Unfiltered coffee and espresso can raise cholesterol levels, while instant coffee and filter coffee are less likely to affect it. The risk of increased serum cholesterol levels also depends on the amount of coffee a person drinks and their sensitivity to caffeine. This article discusses how certain oils in coffee can affect serum (blood) cholesterol levels, the risks and benefits of drinking coffee, and tips for managing cholesterol levels.
Can coffee raise cholesterol levels?
Results from studies on the association between coffee consumption and higher serum cholesterol levels are mixed, according to a 2001 research review. A more recent 2016 study suggests that coffee consumption is linked to lower levels of higher cholesterol, although the effects vary depending on the type of coffee and the gender of the individual. However, according to earlier research dating back to 1997, it’s not the amount of caffeine in coffee that can affect cholesterol levels, but the oils naturally present in the coffee bean. These natural oils, also called diterpenes, are cafestol and kahweol. Both oils can raise total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, although the amount of diterpenes in coffee varies depending on the brewing method.
For example, if a person makes coffee with paper filters, most of the diterpenes stay in the filter. In contrast, in unfiltered coffee, most of the diterpenes pass into the coffee. By the way, Scandinavian boiled coffee, Turkish coffee can raise cholesterol levels, according to a 2011 study. Scandinavian coffee and Turkish coffee are unfiltered, while pressed coffee (espresso) goes through a metal filter which allows more diterpenes to pass through. the infusion than paper filters.
Other types of coffee contain varying levels of diterpenes and therefore have different effects on cholesterol levels:
Espresso: This type of coffee contains about half the amount of diterpenes found in unfiltered coffee. Since people generally drink small servings of espresso, it likely has little effect on cholesterol.
Filtered coffee: Probably has little effect on cholesterol. However, research on this type of coffee is inconsistent.
Instant coffee: This type of coffee contains very few diterpenes, so it should not raise cholesterol levels.
Risks associated with coffee consumption
In addition to potentially raising cholesterol levels, coffee can pose other health risks. Caffeine, a naturally occurring psychoactive substance in coffee, can interact with a person’s medications. It is estimated that 400 milligrams of caffeine per day is generally safe for health, but caffeine can have a variety of clinically significant interactions with many medications. Some other drinks, such as energy drinks, also contain high levels of caffeine.
Risks Related to Drug Interactions
A 2020 study found that coffee can interact with many medications due to its caffeine content. Also, care should be taken when mixing a caffeinated beverage, such as coffee, with alcohol. This combination can cause a person to drink more alcohol than he thinks and therefore experience more harmful effects of alcohol.
The risks of caffeine
The safe amount of caffeine is equivalent to four to five cups of coffee. However, some people are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine and may experience some of the following effects:
elevated heart rate
a feeling of unhappiness
Other sources of caffeine
Other drinks that contain caffeine are tea, soft drinks, and energy drinks. Tea and soft drinks generally contain less caffeine than coffee, while some energy drinks can contain two to three times more caffeine than a coffee drink.
The benefits of drinking coffee
Coffee has several possible benefits, including:
reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease
help protect cells from damage with its high antioxidant content
reduce the risk of death
reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases in women.
Additionally, caffeine can:
help with weight loss
improve mental focus
benefit on mood
improve athletic performance
Although cafestol and kahweol may have a negative effect on cholesterol, they may have some health benefits.
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