Coffee, if it’s not the most popular drink in the world, would hold a spot in the top three. That’s how popular coffee is in the world. In the United States of America alone, coffee consumption has increased by a little over 5% since 2015.
The consumption rate of coffee has contributed to how it has been researched in different areas concerning our health like gas, anxiety, and our overall health. A few studies have identified a relationship between our cholesterol levels and coffee.
We would try to address the relationship between coffee consumption and cholesterol level and how your preferred brew impacts this relationship.
What’s the Relationship between Coffee and Cholesterol?
The first study to show the relationship between coffee consumption and cholesterol levels was published in 1983; since then, many other studies have been conducted to understand the relationship and correlation. What then is cholesterol, and how is it affected by coffee consumption.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is an important part of the cells we have in our body, and it is rich in fat. It is important because it is the molecule that starts the production of estrogen and testosterone in our bodies. When our body traps and absorbs sunlight, the cholesterol is needed to be synthesized into vitamin D.
Cholesterol is naturally occurring in our body, but it is also found in some food substances that we consume. From what we have addressed above, cholesterol is important in our body, but several essential factors can affect our blood amount. Some of these factors are age, genetics, lifestyle, and diet choices.
Cholesterol is usually measured using two opposite markers – good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. Good cholesterol is also known as HDL, while bad cholesterol is called LDL. When talking about cholesterol, these two markers are always addressed.
When the level of LDL cholesterol is too high in your body, it could lead to cardiovascular issues like heart attack and stroke. When the levels are high, the molecules of cholesterol can cluster together and block the arteries.
How Does Coffee Consumption Affect the Levels of Cholesterol in the Body?
Numerous substances can be found in coffee, which is beneficial to us on different levels. But what substance in an already brewed coffee is responsible for raising cholesterol levels in the body?
Some studies have linked this effect of coffee to diterpenes – the natural oils found in coffee. Cafestol and Kahweol are most especially linked to this effect because they are chemical substances that influence how the body breaks down its cholesterol. Some studies have also shown that cafestol has properties whose effect is in raising cholesterol levels in the body.
Like most other things we eat and drink, we have always been advised to watch what we eat and drink. It is the same with coffee because the amount of coffee you consume contributes to the effects of coffee on your body. A moderate intake of coffee is required for your body to stay healthy and not start getting the side effects of coffee. The standard amount of coffee recommended is from 2 to 4 coffee cups per day. Taking this amount of coffee won’t have any effect on raising the cholesterol in the body. Some studies have revealed that taking less than 4 cups of coffee reduces the risk of developing heart diseases. A new study also revealed that increasing the amount of coffee consumption from 4 to 6 increases the risk of developing heart diseases because it increases the LDL cholesterol and the total amount of cholesterol in the body. When LDL cholesterol in your body is high, you are at risk of developing heart diseases.
How Brewing Affects Cholesterol
The way you brew your coffee has also been linked with relationship cholesterol. There are majorly two types of coffee brews, although we have different brewing techniques. The type of brew has been revealed to determine the number of diterpenes in the coffee brew.
The types of coffee brew are:
The Instant Drip
The chemical substances in diterpene – cafestol and kahweol – can be easily removed (at least most of it) from the coffee by brewing it this way. It involves using a paper filter that retains most of the diterpenes and, in the same vein, the cafestol. This means that moderately taking a coffee brewed this way won’t affect the level of your cholesterol.
This is also a brewing technique, almost similar to the French press coffee and the Scandinavian boiled coffee. Here there’s no filter, and the hot water is poured over the coffee grounds. With this technique, active chemical substances like the diterpenes and caffeine can seep into the liquid. This kind of brew usually has up to 5 mg of cafestol in a coffee cup, which can cause an increase in the level of cholesterol in the body.
Another type of coffee is espresso.
The espresso is somewhere between the pouring technique (unfiltered) and the dripping (filtered) technique. Its diterpene content is up to 1 mg for each chemical substance which is lower than the filtered coffee but higher in the unfiltered coffee.
Alternatives to Coffee
If you are still afraid about coffee increasing the level of cholesterol in your body, you might want to consider some alternative beverages. Some of the alternatives you can take include green and herbal tea. However, green tea contains compounds like antioxidants and flavonoids, which serve protective functions. It also contains some biologically active substances that are beneficial to our health.
You can also decide to go for the drink with the lowest calorie – water – as it would keep you hydrated while staying healthy.
Things to Avoid
Coffee taken naturally and moderately doesn’t cause any side effects. But, here are some of the things to avoid to keep yourself healthy:
- Avoid coffee with excess sweeteners
- Avoid drinking coffee with excess milk and cream
- Avoid coffee with additives
Additives mostly contain more calories than any other substances, so when you take coffee with additives, no matter how small you’re taking, you would be moving very close to the recommended amount of calories.
Coffee has various substances that are beneficial to our health. Still, most of the negatives have been associated with overconsuming coffee, or you would start getting the side effects of coffee.
For cholesterol, it increases based on the amount of coffee you are consuming. Brewing also plays an important role in this because filtered coffee removes most of the chemical substances that raise cholesterol levels in the body.
Pay attention to your health, and to be on the safe side, stay on the recommended amount of coffee cups for the day, and if you eventually exceed, take a lot of water to neutralize its effect and stay hydrated. Also, be mindful of the things you add to your coffee, and make sure you are not taking coffee with additives.