Scientists try to unpick link between coffee and cholesterol

·2-min read

Men who drink espressos could have higher cholesterol levels than women, a new study suggests.

Previous studies have linked naturally occurring chemicals in coffee with higher levels of cholesterol in the blood, an issue which is linked to heart problems including stroke.

To examine the link between brewing method and cholesterol, a team of academics from Norway set out to look at the way people drink their coffee and also assess the levels of cholesterol in their blood.

Their study, published in the journal Open Heart, examined information from more than 21,000 people over the age of 40 who live in Tromso, Norway.

Analysis of the data showed that the association between coffee and cholesterol varied depending on brewing method, with significant differences seen across the sexes.

Coffee drinkers who consumed three to five espressos a day were significantly more likely to have higher levels of cholesterol in the blood compared with those who did not drink espressos.

Men who drank this many espressos appeared to have higher concentrations compared with women.

Those who had six or more cups of cafetiere coffee – also known as boiled/plunger coffee – also had raised levels compared with those who did not.

Drinking six or more cups of filtered coffee was linked to higher levels of cholesterol in the blood among women, but not men.

The researchers did not find a significant link between instant coffee and cholesterol levels.

“The most important finding was that espresso coffee consumption was significantly associated with increased S-TC (serum total cholesterol),” the authors wrote.

They added: “Espresso coffee consumption was associated with increased S-TC with significantly stronger association for men compared with women.

“Boiled/plunger coffee was associated with increased S-TC in both sexes.

“Filtered coffee was associated with a small increase in S-TC in women.”

They added: “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.

“Increased knowledge on espresso coffee’s association with serum cholesterol will improve the recommendations regarding coffee consumption.”

Commenting on the study, Dr Dipender Gill from St George’s, University of London, urged caution when interpreting conclusions from the data, adding: “The observed differences could instead be explained by confounding factors giving rise to spurious associations.

“Specifically, men and individuals with a preference for a certain type of coffee may happen to also have other lifestyle factors that affect their cholesterol levels.”

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