Espresso Is Linked to Higher Total Cholesterol Levels

2022-09-23 21:13:31 By : Mr. Raymond Lei

Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LDN, CLEC, CPT, has studied nutrition for almost two decades. She was named an emerging leader in women's health by the National Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Nick Blackmer is a librarian, fact-checker, and researcher with more than 20 years’ experience in consumer-oriented health and wellness content.

How you prepare your coffee may affect your cholesterol level, according to a study published in Open Heart.

Espresso in particular is associated with higher total cholesterol levels, and the association was stronger in men than in women, the study showed.

Coffee consumption may raise cholesterol levels in part because the beverage contains the chemicals cafestol and kahweol, which have been linked to higher LDL “bad” cholesterol.

French press or plunger coffee has higher contents of these cholesterol-raising compounds than filtered coffee does. Espresso has an intermediate amount of these compounds, but data on espresso intake and cholesterol levels is limited.

To determine whether drinking espresso affects cholesterol levels, researchers in Norway evaluated data from over 20,000 people over the age of 40.

Compared to participants who did not drink espresso, those who have three to five cups of espresso every day were significantly associated with increased total cholesterol. But men saw a greater effect.

Drinking six or more cups of boiled or plunger coffee daily was linked to increased total cholesterol in both women and men. Six or more cups of filtered coffee daily were only associated with higher total cholesterol levels in women, but not in men.

Michelle Routhenstein, MS, RD, a cardiology dietitian at Entirely Nourished who was not involved in the study, told Verywell that “the key takeaway of this study is to reduce espresso consumption to zero to two cups per day to assist with lowering cholesterol levels.”

According to Routhenstein, there can be up to 30 times more of the compounds that play a role in cholesterol elevation when the coffee beans are unfiltered compared to what you’d find in a filtered brew.

She added that “caffeinated coffee is a stimulant and can increase blood pressure levels, and may cause heart palpitations such as atrial fibrillation" for some people.

While the results of the study might be concerning, you don’t necessarily have to cut out coffee entirely to support healthy cholesterol levels. Routhenstein said that the amount recommended might vary based on individual medical history.

For most healthy adults, total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL, your LDL less than 100 mg/dL, and your HDL greater than 40 mg/dL. For children, total cholesterol should be less than 170 mg/dL, LDL less than 110 mg/dL, and HDL greater than 45 mg/dL.

Having high cholesterol levels can increase the risk of health conditions like heart disease and a heart attack.

A recent study found that drinking three to five cups of espresso daily is linked to higher levels of total cholesterol. You don’t necessarily have to give up coffee if you’re trying to manage your cholesterol, but you may want to think about how you prepare it and how much you're drinking every day.

Svatun ÅL, Løchen ML, Thelle DS, Wilsgaard T. Association between espresso coffee and serum total cholesterol: the Tromsø Study 2015-2016. Open Heart. 2022;9(1):e001946. doi:10.1136/openhrt-2021-001946

Ren Y, Wang C, Xu J, Wang S. Cafestol and kahweol: a review on their bioactivities and pharmacological properties. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(17):4238. doi:10.3390/ijms20174238

Mortensen MB, Nordestgaard BG. Elevated LDL cholesterol and increased risk of myocardial infarction and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in individuals aged 70-100 years: a contemporary primary prevention cohort. Lancet. 2020;396(10263):1644-1652. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32233-9

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