We may all be drinking more coffee to help us survive the COVID-19 lockdown. Today scientists announce the healthiest way to make a brew.
In a new study, researchers for the first time examined links between coffee brewing methods and risks of heart attacks and death has concluded that filtered brew is safest.
Unfiltered coffee contains substances that increase blood cholesterol. Using a filter removes these and makes heart attacks and premature death less likely.
The study provides strong and convincing evidence of a link between coffee brewing methods, heart attacks, and longevity.
The research was conducted by a team at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
Coffee is one of the most popular beverages worldwide and the most frequently used stimulant.
Some 30 years ago Professor Thelle discovered that drinking coffee was linked with raised total cholesterol and the “bad” LDL cholesterol—to such an extent that it was likely to have detrimental consequences for heart health.
Experiments identified the culprit substances in coffee and found that they could be removed using a filter.
A cup of unfiltered coffee contains about 30 times the concentration of the lipid-raising substances compared to filtered coffee.
In the study, the team wondered whether this effect on cholesterol would result in more heart attacks and death from heart disease.
Between 1985 and 2003, the study enrolled a representative sample of the Norwegian population: 508,747 healthy men and women aged 20 to 79.
Participants completed a questionnaire on the amount and type of coffee consumed.
Data was also collected on variables that could influence both coffee consumption and heart diseases so that these could be accounted for in the analysis.
For example, smoking, education, physical activity, height, weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
Participants were followed for an average of 20 years. A total of 46,341 participants died. Of those, 12,621 deaths were due to heart disease. Of the cardiovascular deaths, 6,202 were caused by a heart attack.
The team found overall, coffee drinking was not a dangerous habit. In fact, drinking filtered coffee was safer than no coffee at all.
Compared to no coffee, the filtered brew was linked with a 15% reduced risk of death from any cause during follow up.
For death from heart disease, the filtered brew was linked to a 12% decreased risk of death in men and a 20% lowered risk of death in women compared to no coffee.
The lowest mortality was among consumers of 1 to 4 cups of filtered coffee per day.
The finding that those drinking the filtered beverage did a little better than those not drinking coffee at all could not be explained by any other variable such as age, gender, or lifestyle habits.
The filtered brew was also less risky than the unfiltered beverage for death from any cause, death due to heart disease, and deaths from heart attacks.
This was partly because of the cholesterol-increasing effect of unfiltered coffee.
The team noted that unfiltered coffee did not raise the risk of death compared to abstaining from coffee—except in men aged 60 and above, where unfiltered brew was linked with elevated cardiovascular mortality.
For people who know they have high cholesterol levels and want to do something about it, stay away from unfiltered brew, including coffee made with a cafetière.
For everyone else, drink your coffee with a clear conscience and go for filtered.
One author of the study is Professor Dag S. Thelle.
The study is published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
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