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According to the results of over 300 hours of research by the Urban Bean Coffee team, 64% of American adults enjoy at least one cup of the good stuff every day. This works out to approximately 146 billion cups of coffee consumed yearly.
And it’s easy to see why we’re all so hooked…
Not only is that roasted flavor with its energizing jolt of caffeine a great way to start the day — more and more we’re learning about the health benefits coffee has to offer.
From preventing gallstones to helping promote digestive health by fueling a healthy microbiome and encouraging the release of gastric acid, bile and pancreatic secretions, coffee has more perks than you can shake a stick at.
It could also help you burn more fat, fight cancer and diabetes and even reduce your risk of Parkinson’s by stimulating healthy brain function.
However, despite all of these important benefits, a study about 30 years ago also revealed a dark side to the dark brew…
That Swedish research revealed that drinking coffee could cause a significant and even dangerous rise in your total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol — enough that it could damage your heart health.
Since then, scientists have worked to determine whether all coffee is bad for your heart, or if only certain types of brew send your cholesterol into the danger zone.
And now, we have the answer to that question, as well as surprising insight into how sex plays a role in coffee’s cholesterol risks…
The brewing method
The surprising research study drew on data from over 21,000 participants. Every participant was asked how many daily cups of coffee they drank, as well as what brew type they drank (filtered, French press, espresso from coffee machines, pods, mocha pots, etc. or instant).
The researchers then took blood samples to see which participants were most likely to have high cholesterol based on their coffee preference and sex.
So what did they find?
The research revealed that the number one coffee type to avoid (especially for men) was espresso.
That’s because drinking three to five daily cups of espresso was significantly associated with increased serum total cholesterol, with the biggest difference seen in male espresso drinkers. Overall, compared with those who never drank espresso, this consumption level was associated with 0.09 mmol/l higher serum cholesterol among women versus 0.16 mmol/l higher among the men.
On the other hand, it took six or more cups of coffee made in a French press or filtered coffee to raise cholesterol in both sexes — with women experiencing the biggest increase from the plunger coffee and men’s cholesterol staying steady no matter how much filtered coffee they drank.
And before you reach for the instant coffee, you should know that this type of coffee was associated with an increase in cholesterol in both sexes (although this didn’t rise in tandem with the number of cups consumed).
Naturally-occurring chemicals in coffee
So, why do different brewing methods affect cholesterol at varying levels and differently whether you’re male or female?
Well, according to the researchers, it likely has to do with naturally-occurring chemicals found in coffee, including diterpenes, cafestol and kahweol.
“Interestingly, coffee contains more than a thousand diverse phytochemicals. The intake of each compound also depends on the variety of coffee species, roasting degree, type of brewing method and serving size,” they explain.
And while these are chemicals that may raise cholesterol, cafestol and kahweol have also been found to have anti-inflammatory effects, guard against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and lessen the risks of cancer and diabetes.
“This demonstrates how coffee contains compounds that may lead to multiple mechanisms (both good and bad for your health) operating simultaneously,” the researchers point out.
The most important takeaway from the study?
“Coffee is the most frequently consumed central stimulant worldwide. Because of the high consumption of coffee, even small health effects can have considerable health consequences.”
So when it comes to coffee, choose your brew wisely to grab all of its benefits, while limiting your cholesterol risks.
Editor’s note: While you’re doing all the right things to protect your brain as you age, make sure you don’t make the mistake 38 million Americans do every day — by taking a drug that robs them of an essential brain nutrient! Click here to discover the truth about the Cholesterol Super-Brain!