Recent research suggests that when it comes to coffee, there’s a lot more to consider than its flavor. It turns out that different types of coffee impact cholesterol levels differently, and these effects may be different in men and women.
Study Findings: Brewed Coffee vs. Espresso May Affect Cholesterol Levels
A March 2022 population-based, cross-sectional study published in the journal Open Heart examined how various brewing methods, in particular espresso, were associated with cholesterol levels.
We knew already that coffee can raise cholesterol because of the presence of naturally occurring chemicals, including diterpenes, cafestol and kahweol, and brewing methods can change the content of these compounds. Boiled and plunger coffee, for example, contains higher contents of cafestol and kahweol than filtered coffee and can have a greater impact on cholesterol.
The study explored the association between espresso consumption and serum total cholesterol in an adult and elderly population in Northern Norway. Researchers found that espresso consumption was significantly associated with increased cholesterol, especially among adult men.
Other brewing methods, including boiled/plunger coffee, filtered coffee and instant coffee, had varying effects on cholesterol, with plunger coffee consumption causing a greater increase than filtered and instant coffee.
Different coffee brewing methods affected men and women differently. Espresso coffee consumption was associated with increased serum cholesterol, with a significant impact on men compared to women.
Boiled/plunger coffee was associated in cholesterol increases in both sexes, and filtered coffee had a more prevalent impact in women.
What It Means (How to Choose Coffee vs. Espresso)
Coffee is the most frequently consumed stimulant in the world. Because it’s used in such high amounts, even small effects on human health can have a considerable impact.
When it comes to choosing the healthiest coffee method for cholesterol, reports indicate that filtered coffee is the best choice. Non-filtered coffee, including espresso, contains compounds that raise LDL cholesterol and may be associated with an up to 25 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease mortality when consuming nine or more cups a day (which is a whole lot of coffee).
However, moderate intake of three to four cups per day is probably harmless and perhaps moderately beneficial, according to researchers. So even if you are an espresso lover, you can continue drinking it, but sticking to low or moderate amounts is better for your health.
Tips for Healthy Cholesterol
Studies show that moderate coffee consumption, about one to four cups daily, is associated with the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease. This is due to the many beneficial phytochemicals found in coffee.
Even with evidence of coffee consumption raising cholesterol levels, research indicates that sticking to moderate intake may actually improve heart health overall.
When it comes to maintaining healthy cholesterol, the key is to raise your HDL cholesterol levels and reduce your LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Here are some lifestyle tips you can incorporate into your daily routine for a big impact:
- Don’t smoke cigarettes.
- Increase physical activity.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Add healthy fats to your diet (like olive oil, nuts and avocado).
- Cut out refined carbohydrates and sugary foods.
- Eat more nutrient-dense foods (including fresh fruits and vegetables).
- Stick to moderate consumption of alcohol and coffee.
- Reduce or avoid trans fats commonly found in processed and pre-packaged foods.
- A March 2022 population-based, cross-sectional study published in the journal Open Heart found that unfiltered coffee, including espresso, may increase cholesterol levels, especially when consumed in high amounts.
- Consuming low or moderate amounts of high-quality filtered coffee, such as one to three cups per day, is the healthiest approach to drinking coffee.
- Other things you can do to maintain healthy cholesterol levels include avoiding cigarettes, increasing physical activity, adding nutrient-dense foods to your diet, avoiding trans fats and refined carbohydrates, and maintaining a healthy weight.