Coffee is the most consumed beverage in the world, and cholesterol is one of the most common health concerns, so, we shouldn’t be surprised by the number of questions we get every day about whether coffee has cholesterol.
Coffee and high cholesterol are not necessarily related, although to fine-tune the answer, it is necessary to first know some basic notions of chemistry and the organic composition of coffee.
The diterpenes of coffee
Almost all coffee drinks contain cafestol. What is cafestol? So basically, a molecule capable of raising the levels of bad cholesterol. Also, although to a lesser extent, kahweol appears. Both components, cafestol and kahweol, are diterpenes (so-called because of their chemical structure). And it is precisely the coffee diterpenes that are primarily responsible for how coffee affects cholesterol.
Where does it lie in the difficulty of the matter? Because these diterpenes, cafestol and kahweol, are not always present in coffee in the same way or the same proportion. Their quantities depend on the origin of the coffee and how it is prepared.
For example, Robusta coffee beans, which are traditionally considered to be of lower quality, contain half as much caffeine as arabica beans. And they include hardly any kahweol.
On the other hand, these diterpenes are extracted with hot water, so that in an espresso coffee, for example, they can pass directly into the cup, while in a preparation with filtering (such as those of drip coffee machines) they can be retained in the paper filter without passing into the drink.
Going to the other extreme, in the coffee that is prepared by infusion, such as Turkish coffee or coffee stew, there is hardly any retention or filtering of coffee grounds (everything stays in the cup). So the rate of diterpenes of the coffee we drink is almost the maximum possible. This type of unfiltered coffee preparation increases LDL and triglycerides.
NOTE: LDLs are low-density lipoproteins, commonly known as “bad cholesterol”, as opposed to high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) that are not harmful.
Decaffeinated coffee and cholesterol
Many consumers drink decaffeinated coffee because they need to get rid of caffeine, but it turns out that caffeine tends to mitigate or avoid the harmful effects of cholesterol.
So if you have cholesterol problems, it’s probably best to drink regular coffee. Not because decaffeinated coffee is terrible for cholesterol itself, but because caffeine has beneficial effects that you would be missing.
Soluble coffee and cholesterol
The relationship between instant coffee and cholesterol, on the other hand, is conditioned by the freeze-drying process explained in our soluble coffee guide. In general, instant coffee contains less caffeoyl than bean coffee, so it has less effect on cholesterol.
Do you now understand the difficulty of giving a definite answer to the question of whether coffee increases terrible cholesterol? The relationship between coffee and cholesterol is diffuse; it depends on too many factors. But in general, we can say that certain types of coffee (without filtering) can release diterpenes, and therefore facilitate the increase of bad cholesterol (the known LDL).
In any case, the levels of increase are quite moderate, or even small, unless we drink a quantity of unfiltered coffee a day somewhat disproportionate.
NOTE: To know if coffee gives cholesterol, the first thing you should always consult your family doctor. The opinion of a medical professional should always be above the orientate information that we can give the Internet media.