Why drinking coffee can be linked to high cholesterol

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Scientists from UiT The Arctic University of Norway found that the sex of the drinker, as well as the brewing method, may be key to coffee’s link with raised cholesterol, a known risk factor for heart disease.

They found that drinking espresso was linked to the widest gender difference in cholesterol level; plunger (cafetière) coffee was linked to the narrowest.

The research is published in the journal Open Heart and was conducted by Åsne Lirhus Svatun et al.

Naturally occurring chemicals in coffee—diterpenes, cafestol, and kahweol—raise levels of cholesterol in the blood.

The brewing method is influential, but it’s not clear what impact espresso coffee might have, and in what quantities.

In the study, the team wanted to compare espresso coffee with other brewing methods among adults aged 40 and older (average age 56).

They drew on data from 21,083 participants (11074 women;10009 men).

Participants were asked how many daily cups of coffee they drank—none, 1–2 cups; 3–5; and 6 or more—and what brew type they drank—filtered; plunger (cafetière); espresso from coffee machines, pods, mocha pots, etc; and instant.

The team found that women drank an average of just under 4 cups of coffee every day while men drank an average of nearly 5.

They showed that the link between coffee and total cholesterol varied, depending on the brewing method, with big sex differences for all brew types bar plunger coffee.

Drinking 3–5 daily cups of espresso was strongly linked to increased total cholesterol, particularly among men.

Compared with those who drank none, this pattern of consumption was linked to 0.09 mmol/l higher serum cholesterol among the women vs 0.16 mmol/l higher among the men.

A daily tally of 6 or more cups of plunger coffee was also linked to raised cholesterol, and to a similar degree in both men and women: 0.30 mmol/l higher among the women vs 0.23 mmol/l higher among the men.

And getting through 6 or more cups of filtered coffee every day was associated with 0.11 mmol/l higher cholesterol among the women, but not among the men, when compared with those not drinking filtered coffee.

The team also found that while instant coffee was linked to an increase in cholesterol in both sexes, this didn’t rise in tandem with the number of cups drunk, when compared with those who didn’t opt for coffee powder/granules.

They point out that there was no standardized cup size used in their study.

Different types of espresso–from coffee machines, capsules, or mocha pots—are also likely to contain different levels of the key naturally occurring chemicals.

And there are as yet no obvious explanations for the gender discrepancy in cholesterol response to coffee drinking.

If you care about wellness, please read studies about fat in milk and cheese linked to lower risk of heart disease, and what heart and stroke patients should know about COVID-19 vaccines

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about nutrient that can protect your heart rate, and results showing this combo therapy can cut risk of heart attack and stroke by half.

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