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The Coffee Cholesterol Debate: Is a cup of morning joe good for your ticker, or bad?

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 0

Exploring the Coffee Cholesterol Link

 Studies suggest that there may be a coffee cholesterol link, although it’s not as clear as the link between alcohol and cholesterol, for instance. There is a lot of disagreement about whether coffee is even good for cholesterol or bad for it! This can make for a confusing situation. And if you’re a coffee lover, like myself (if you don’t believe me, check out my Aeropress review; it makes the best coffee ever), it’s an especially sensitive topic. If I were to find out that coffee is bad for you, I would probably try to stop drinking it; but if it’s good for you, or neutral for you, or even if it’s just a bit bad for you, that probably won’t be enough to make me change my morning habits. Either way, it's definitely worth reading up on the coffee cholesterol debate to find out.

Coffee is Awesome

Because let’s face it. Put the coffee cholesterol thing aside for just a moment. Having a cup of joe in the morning is one of life’s great joys. Mornings are quiet and meditative. And the way coffee perks you up, not just with its caffeine but its strong taste and heat…it’s just a great feeling. The question is, does that great feeling come with a cost? Is it bad for your cholesterol levels? Or is the coffee cholesterol relationship actually good for you?

Unfiltered Coffee and Cholesterol

The verdict is still out, but there are some clues about an unfiltered coffee cholesterol link. One thing that seems relatively certain is that unfiltered coffee is bad for your cholesterol. If you use a French press, or order a lot of espresso drinks, you might very well be increasing your risk for heart disease. One study in the Netherlands showed that drinking five cups of coffee from a French press daily for a month increased cholesterol levels by 6-8%. This increase is attributed to cafestol, a compound found in coffee that screws up the activity of a certain receptor that regulates cholesterol.

Now, that news might dismay you. But keep in mind, five cups a day for four weeks is quite a bit. Most of us don’t drink that much coffee. Also, you can decrease this effect to a large extent by using a paper filter (which most of us do anyway). The filter soaks up some of the oils containing cafestol. So if you’re worked about the coffee cholesterol link, make sure you use a paper filter.

Coffee Cholesterol Solution: Is That All You Need?

Is that enough? Will using a paper filter save you from any coffee cholesterol raising effects? It seems so, yes; for the most part. Most coffee cholesterol effects are associated with unfiltered coffee. Drinking filtered coffee will probably still have a very small effect on cholesterol, but it’s probably not dramatic enough to worry about. Coffee consumption is not directly associated with heart disease.

So far, I’ve only been considering the coffee itself. Keep in mind that coffee drinks often contain a lot more than coffee, like tons of cream, sugar, and syrup. Those extra ingredients are much worse for you than the coffee itself. Also, things like smoking and drinking too much are way, way worse for you. So if you’re a smoker, stop worrying about coffee cholesterol and quit smoking first! Priorities, people!

Coffee's Other Health Effects

While I’ve only talked about the coffee cholesterol thing in this article, don’t assume that that’s the whole story. Coffee has a long list of health effects, ranging from good to bad. Check out this page on wikipedia and you’ll see what I mean. There are so many studies and theories about coffee’s effects on health that it’s almost impossible to know what the healthiest thing to do is. My recommendation is to keep drinking coffee if you enjoy it; it has antioxidants, among other potential benefits, and is an enjoyable part of the morning. Just make sure to drink filtered coffee to avoid the coffee cholesterol raising thing. Lastly, I just want to remind you that I’m not a doctor, and the information in this article is my own personal, non-professional opinion. Talk to your doctor if you have any medical conditions or before you make any big changes to your diet or lifestyle.

Thanks for reading about the coffee cholesterol link. If you want to explore the topic further, check out my article called, Can You Drink Coffee Before a Cholesterol Test? Bottoms up!


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