Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Health Risk of French Press Coffee: Increased Cholesterol

Foodgoat loves his French press coffee. So he was surprised to the see health advice at work saying that a little coffee every day is okay, as long as it wasn't boiled or French press.

What?  What difference would it make, health-wise, if the coffee was boiled or French pressed?

In the 1980s, Scandinavian doctors first noticed that coffee drinkers tended to suffer from high cholesterol more often than those who didn't drink coffee.

While caffeine is the chemical we usually associate with coffee, it's not the caffeine causing this effect.  It is another of the many other other natural compounds in coffee - cafestol.


Cafestol, found in the flavorful coffee oils, is a terpene, a class of organic compound are the main component of essential oils and resin (from which turpentine is produced).

But, look what cafestol does:
  1. Cafestol binds to a hormone receptor in the intestine where normally bile acids would bind.  
  2. Because this receptor has been hijacked, the breakdown of cholesterol into bile acids slows down.  
  3. Cholesterol then backs up.
  4. Cholestoerol level goes up.  This  is largely an increase in low density lipoprotein (LDL) (the bad kind) levels and triglyceride levels. High density lipoproteins (HDL) do not appear to be affected.
The impact of cafestol on cholesterol is can be significant - cafestol is routinely described as the most potent cholesterol-elevating compound known in the human diet.

One study found that 10 milligrams of cafestol (or four 5-ounce cups of French-press coffee) may raise cholesterol by 8 to 10 percent in four weeks. 

And of course, cholesterol can be deposited in artery walls, increasing the risk for heart disease.

Why Brewing Method Matters
Because cafestol is in the oils of coffee, though, using a paper filter (as in drip coffee brews) captures much of the oil and results in very low levels of cafestol.  So cholesterol is unimpacted. 

In unfiltered brewing methods, including French press, boiled methods such as Turkish coffee, and espresso, the oils remain in your coffee.  It gives better flavor, but also leaves all the cafestol in it, so your cholestorol gets the full impact.  (Note, in Scandanavia, where they first noticed the cafestol effect, the typical coffee brewing method is a boiled method).  Cafetol is highest in Turkish coffee type brews, next highest is French press, followed by espresso.

So, does this mean French press coffee is unhealthy?  I don't think so.  The impact on cholesterol is significant, but still is less than the influence of other factors, including:
  • Eating foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.
  • Being overweight.
  • Not being active every day.
  • Smoking.
Since I'm not concerned about my cholesterol level or overall risk of heart disease,  I'm just going to go ahead and keep drinking my French press coffee.

45 comments:

  1. In years reading blogs I have never seen better proof of intelligence on the web. A complicated matter clearly and effectively explained. Thanks for this!

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  2. Anonymous6:47 PM

    So if you're vegan and don't intake any cholesterol than you're fine. Great!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not necessarily. You don't intake any cholesterol, but cholesterol is produced within your body anyway.

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    2. Not necessarily. You don't intake any cholesterol, but cholesterol is produced within your body anyway.

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    3. There is no such thing as good and bad cholesterol. These terms are fictitious. In fact LDL the so called 'bad' cholesterol and HDL the so called 'good' cholesterol are not even cholesterol, they are lipo-proteins, transports for cholesterol. ... in fact, your body is incapable of functioning without LDL particles.

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  3. In some cozaar review sites, it's still best to reduce cholesterol intake by preventing the food that may lead to serious health problems.

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  4. Anonymous2:05 PM

    I found a practice to take care of not only the cholesterol, but the ground in my cup as well. I brew in a French press, then pour through a single-cup cone filter into my mug. It provides a paper filter, if that is in fact the health measure in regular drip coffee, and it filters out the grounds as well. I still get press-brewed coffee, with most of the ease of a French press, and the clean-up is almost as easy, except I now go through a cone filter for every couple of cups of joe.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The journal is not advertiser-supported and every item examined by its board is purchased; they are not contributed or given as presents by The Best Coffee Maker Review
    of the items being examined. Thus, you can rest confident that the opinions released by Customer Reviews Magazine are impartial.

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  6. Gallstones are small stones mainly made of cholesterol that form in the stop gallbladder pain gallbladder. ... A sudden intense pain in the abdomen; Nausea and vomiting; Jaundice.

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  8. Anakristina6:38 PM

    Thank you for your information. My good friend told me that the French press process releases toxins and the Melita filter way My Mother from Finland taught me and I have always used is best. I just like strong coffee as I mix it with Organic Grass fed Milk/Cream, Cinnamon and cocoa.

    Just the fact that the study came from Scandinavia makes this legitimate. I just got a French press and will be returning it. I was impressed with the idea of putting it through a filter after french pressing however I wonder if the effect of the grounds in the paper filter process need to take place first in order to to release the toxin? The grounds may release the toxins into the filter and must be the first step after this refiltering has no use or benefit. Nice idea though and certainly fun contemplating.

    Thanks again'
    AnaKristina




    I really enjoyed your article. It was very informative and answered my question Excellently!!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. What? What difference would it make, health-wise, if the coffee was boiled or French pressed? http://findmybud.com/

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  10. I had really high cholesterol and am adjudication to the stain drugs. Diet did nothing to change my numbers. I wad one of those people who just have high cholesterol. I read about unfiltered coffee and cholesterol about 10 years ago and switched to fileted coffee. My bad cholesterol dropped by 100 points in a year by switching how I drink my coffee, with no other changes, medication, or herbs.

    I do love me some French press, though!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I had really high cholesterol and am adjudication to the stain drugs. Diet did nothing to change my numbers. I wad one of those people who just have high cholesterol. I read about unfiltered coffee and cholesterol about 10 years ago and switched to fileted coffee. My bad cholesterol dropped by 100 points in a year by switching how I drink my coffee, with no other changes, medication, or herbs.

    I do love me some French press, though!

    ReplyDelete
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  13. oh my gosh!! i can't fricken believe it. 4 weeks ago i was diagnosed with high LDL. i did about 30 hours researching. i could not believe about the coffee. i was so pissed. i was also drinking french press. i few cups a day, plus tim hortons. i weigh about 100 pds so i was floored when i found out about high LDL. also another thing people out there, don't believe that coconut oil is good for you. i was eating 1 tsp/day. for 4 weeks now i have not had a coffee. i am still freaking about it. my daily food intake consists of apple, grapefruit, steel cut oats, walnuts, almonds, apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion, quinoa, beans,kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, carrots, green tea, black tea, chai tea. that is it!!! i now weigh 95 pds. oh ya i also do 15 -20 minutes heavy cardio 5 days week. stopped dairy, meat, chicken, eggs, and COFFEE!! i am have NOT limited the cholesterol raising foods, BUT instead i have ELIMINATED them. very very hard. i am not waiting 3 months for blood work, i am doing blood work on my 5th week. -- please comments are welcome.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Anonymous4:21 PM

    I am a 57 year old woman who is not overweight, who exercises regularly and who is considered by my family the person who eats the healthiest diet that they know. I had a blood test on Monday and the results were on my hospital's patient portal the next day. My cholesterol level is 260, HDL is 50 and LDL is 185! All terrible numbers! I am shocked! I have been drinking up to four 6 oz cups of organic French pressed coffee every day for 2 years. I stopped drinking coffee yesterday. I will see my doctor next Friday and I hope that French Pressed coffee is the reason for my terrible results. I am glad that I found this article! I was so shocked!

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