Coffee consumption and cholesterol management

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This is the fourth of five blog posts on the topic of coffee consumption and cardiovascular health, concentrating on the impact of coffee consumption and cardiovascular health. Coffee and Health also houses current scientific information on a wide range of other coffee-related topics.

Background

Raised levels of specific types of cholesterol are a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease.  Data published by the WHO shows that the Europe WHO region has the highest elevated total cholesterol. Lifestyle factors like an unhealthy diet and physical inactivity may result in raised cholesterol levels.

Coffee and Cholesterol

Coffee’s effect on cholesterol levels is largely dependent on how it is brewed.  Unfiltered coffee raises serum cholesterol levels; this is not the case with filtered coffee because the cholesterol-raising compounds in coffee, e.g. cafestol and kahweol, are retained in the paper filter. Soluble coffee contains hardly any of the cholesterol-raising compounds.

Advice for patients

The summaries below are queries patients raise regarding coffee consumption and cholesterol:

Cholesterol Drinking filtered coffee has not been linked to increases in cholesterol levels. However, the consumption of unfiltered coffee in substantial amounts has been shown to increase blood levels of serum cholesterol. This is because the cholesterol-raising compounds in coffee are retained in the paper filter in filtered coffee.
Components of coffee linked with cholesterol The coffee components responsible for increasing cholesterol are cafestol and kahweol. These are naturally-occurring compounds found in coffee oil. Whether these compounds infuse in the brew and to what extent depends on the brewing method.
Method of coffee preparation Filtered coffee and soluble coffee contain hardly any cafestol or kahweol and have virtually no effect on the cholesterol levels. Moderate consumption of espresso also has a negligible effect as levels of cholesterol-raising compounds are approximately half that of unfiltered coffee and serving sizes are small. Scandinavian boiled coffee, Cafetière (plunger pot), Greek and Turkish coffee contain cafestol and kahweol in higher amounts. Consuming substantial amounts of these types of coffees can raise serum cholesterol levels. The effects on the cholesterol level are temporary after consumption.

Conclusion

Certain types of brewing methods of coffee are associated with increased serum cholesterol levels and people with raised cholesterol levels may be advised to choose coffees with insignificant amounts of cafestol and kahweol.

For more information on coffee and cardiovascular health click here, and to view reference material, click here.

This information is intended for Healthcare professional audiences.
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