Coffee consumption and cholesterol

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The diterpenes cafestol and, to a lesser extent, kahweol, both naturally present in coffee oil, can raise the serum levels of both total and LDL-cholesterol31. Whether these diterpenes permeate into brewed coffee, and to what extent, depends on the brewing method. For Scandinavian boiled coffee, cafètiere (plunger pot), Greek and Turkish coffee, these components can pass into the brew, whereas they are largely retained in the paper filter in filtered coffee. Soluble coffee contains hardly any of these diterpenes. Espresso coffee contains approximately half the amount of diterpenes of unfiltered coffee; however, as it is served in small quantities, a moderate consumption of espresso coffee can be expected to have negligible effect on serum cholesterol levels. The effects on cholesterol levels are transient31.

  • A 2001 meta-analysis of randomised clinical trials concluded that trials using filtered coffee demonstrated very little increase, if any, in serum cholesterol levels32.
  • A cross-sectional study from Norway evaluated total cholesterol levels in Sami and Norwegian populations. Information on coffee consumption in this study was collected by self-administered questionnaires. There were 5,647 male and 6,347 female participants. Statistically significant associations were seen for total coffee in men and women, and for unfiltered coffee only in Norwegian men. The lack of an association for unfiltered coffee in the other subgroups might be due to a result by chance, due to the small number of participants33.
  • A 2013 review concluded that unfiltered coffee increased circulating LDL cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations, but filtered coffee had no substantial effects on blood lipids4.
  • However, a 2013 study of both light and medium roast coffee concluded that paper-filtered coffee increased cholesterol in healthy volunteers34.
  • A 2015 study of Italian-style coffee such as espresso concluded that the consumption of over 2 cups per day was not associated with plasma lipid changes35.

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