Does Coffee Cause High Cholesterol? Tips to Keep Your Heart Happy

Miriam Gubovicova
Author: Miriam Gubovicova
Does Coffee Cause High Cholesterol? Tips to Keep Your Heart Happy
Studies suggest that unfiltered coffee methods like French press or espresso may increase cholesterol levels due to higher concentrations of natural oils.

Coffee is a beloved drink enjoyed by millions worldwide, often as part of their morning routine. It’s a routine that brings comfort and consistency to our busy lives. Yet, for individuals monitoring their cholesterol, recent research linking unfiltered coffee to higher lipid levels has sparked concern. But does coffee cause high cholesterol, or is there more behind it?

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how coffee brewing methods can impact your cholesterol and what you can do to still enjoy your coffee while keeping your heart healthy.

A cup of black coffee.

The Culprits: Cafestol and Kahweol

The connection between your morning brew and cholesterol comes from compounds called  cafestol and kahweol found in coffee oils. Although coffee has more than a thousand different compounds, it’s these two that have been proven to impact cholesterol levels.

Cafestol and kahweol are diterpenes – a type of plant compound with a range of biological effects. Research indicates that consuming these compounds can increase total cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein or “negative”) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. The impact is dose-dependent, meaning the more unfiltered coffee you drink, the greater the potential effect on lipid levels.

Brewing Methods Matter

Not all coffee making methods will have the same outcome when it comes to cafestol and kahweol. The key difference lies in whether or not the brewing process uses a paper filter.

Bold Methods:

  • Scandinavian boiled coffee
  • Turkish coffee
  • French press coffee

These methods allow the most cafestol and kahweol to pass through because they don’t use a paper filter. 

Espresso for example contains an intermediate amount of cafestol and kahweol. While the pressurized brewing process helps to extract more of the compounds compared to filtered methods, the small serving size means you’re likely consuming less overall.

Filtered Methods:

  • Drip coffee makers
  • Pour-over methods (with paper filter)

These methods that use a paper filter effectively remove most of the diterpenes. The paper traps the oily compounds, so they don’t get into your coffee.

A man preparing coffee in nature on a natural wooden log.

The Impact on Cholesterol Levels

The impact of unfiltered coffee on your cholesterol levels can be quite significant. One study found that drinking five cups of French press coffee per day for four weeks raised cholesterol by 6 to 8 percent compared to filtered coffee. Another showed that drinking unfiltered coffee increases cholesterol by 10% in four weeks, while filtered coffee had no substantial impact.

It’s worth mentioning that the effect varies significantly from person to person, likely due to genetic differences in how we metabolize these compounds. Some people may be more sensitive to the effects of cafestol and kahweol than others.

Potential Benefits of Cafestol and Kahweol

While the impact on cholesterol levels is concerning, cafestol and kahweol may also have some potential benefits. They help boost antioxidant activity and reduce inflammation, though further research is required to fully grasp these potential benefits.

It’s also worth noting that coffee as a whole has been linked to numerous health benefits, such as reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and liver disease. 

Minimizing the Impact on Cholesterol

If you have high cholesterol, it’s worth considering using a paper filter for your coffee. Brewing methods such as pour-over, drip machines, and French press with a paper filter allow you to enjoy your coffee while getting rid of most of the oily compounds. 

Instant coffee and cold brew are also naturally lower in cafestol and kahweol without needing an extra filter. The processing methods for instant coffee and the cold extraction used for cold brew result in lower levels of these compounds in your cup. However, it’s essential to be aware that most instant coffee brands on the market aren’t the healthiest options.

If you love espresso or French press, try to limit how much you drink or switch to filtered methods from time to time. Small adjustments can make a difference in the long run.

A man pouring black coffee into a cup from a silver pot.

The Big Picture

While the connection between unfiltered coffee and cholesterol is important, it’s essential to keep the big picture in mind. How coffee affects you depends on many factors like your genetics, consumption levels, and your overall diet and lifestyle. Having a few cups of unfiltered coffee daily likely has minimal impact on your health. However, if you’re managing high cholesterol, transitioning to filtered brewing might be a wise step toward a heart-healthy lifestyle. 

Other lifestyle factors like eating a balanced diet rich in healthy fats, exercising regularly, managing stress, and not smoking are also key for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.

As always, it might be useful to consult your healthcare provider to manage your cholesterol through personalized nutrition and lifestyle changes. They can help you make a plan based on your health, family history, and how you live.

Regular check-ups and blood tests can help you monitor your cholesterol levels and adjust your approach as needed. Your doctor can also advise on whether medication may be necessary in addition to lifestyle changes.

A glass cup of coffee on a wooden stool.

Prioritize Quality

The link between unfiltered coffee and raised cholesterol levels is worth noting, especially for those already managing high levels. Choosing filtered brewing methods or moderating intake of unfiltered coffee can be a simple way to minimize any potential negative impact.

Choosing a top-quality coffee brand ensures you enjoy delicious flavor without any unwanted extras, such as mold and mycotoxins, making sure your coffee is healthy from all aspects. 

Purity coffee is a perfect example of this. Not only does it taste fantastic, but it’s also a smart choice for keeping your cholesterol levels in check. With Purity coffee, you get pure, great-tasting coffee that supports a healthy heart. Tip! Use code “HEALTHYHOMES20” to get 20% off your purchase. 

Andrew Salisbury, the founder of Purity Coffee, shared his thoughts on how coffee benefits our health. Check out our recent interview on YouTube to learn more.

It’s important to remember that coffee is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to heart health. Focus on a holistic approach that includes a balanced diet, regular physical activity, stress management, and working closely with your healthcare provider.