Does Coffee Cause High Cholesterol? (Shocking Truth)

This morning jolt can actually cause some serious issues and affect your cholesterol levels. The compounds present in coffee can raise your cholesterol levels if consumed in excess. Even the way you brew it makes it affect your cholesterol.

People who aren’t really morning people have difficulty waking up for work early. Even people who do get up easily still need some motivation to get pumped up for the rest of the day.

The early morning coffee provides the energy boost and adrenaline rush needed to start your day. You feel alert with no drowsiness. But if you overdose on it throughout the day, it is a huge problem.

Maybe you do not keep track of how many cups of coffee you drank in your day. These extra cups of caffeine can lead to some serious health threats. Coffee can cause high cholesterol levels leading to many health issues like heart diseases and diabetes.

But how? Let’s find out more! 

How Does Coffee Affect Your Cholesterol Levels?

The diterpenes present in the coffee oil like Cafestol majorly affect the cholesterol levels in your body. Depending on the amount you consume it can either have negligible effects or drastic effects. It decreases bile production which controls your cholesterol levels.

Coffee is a very popular beverage with a very loyal consumer base all around the world. People drink it to get their daily caffeine fix. Plus, it’s a great source of antioxidants and nutrients like vitamin B-12, potassium, niacin, etc. And it also helps fight many diseases like Parkinson’s.

There are so many health benefits that can be reaped from coffee. So how can a drink which is good for the health cause any damage? The answer lies in the amount consumed daily.

You see, coffee works best if it is gulped in small quantities. The advised limit according to MayoClinic is not more than three to four 8oz cups of coffee per day, and FDA’s approved caffeine limit is 400mg.

If you are drinking more than this, you can have constant headaches, jitters, shaky muscles, etc. Excessive coffee decreases bile production in your liver.

Bile is responsible for breaking down and digesting fatty acids and helps in maintaining cholesterol levels. So, less bile means spiking cholesterol levels. This is not because of the extra caffeine but because of the naturally present coffee oil which has Cafestol.

Another way it affects your cholesterol level is by the method it is brewed. The coffee oil which is present naturally in the beans has diterpenes like cafestol. It is prominently present when the coffee grounds are in contact with water for a longer period of time.

Like in a French Press or in Turkish Coffees. Both of these methods of brewing bring out more coffee oils and increase the diterpenes concentration. These can hinder your body’s natural capability of digesting and breaking down fats thus affecting your cholesterol levels.

Why Does Coffee Raise Cholesterol Levels?

Cafestol from the coffee can spike up your cholesterol levels by gradually halting the production of bile and by damaging the body’s overall ability to digest and metabolize cholesterol. Both of these things directly affect and raise cholesterol levels.

Excessive coffee with cafestol can result in a damaged liver. Though there are many illnesses associated with this, the major change that can happen is the reduction of bile production in your body.

And if bile is gradually being decreased in your body, the fats which you consume cannot be digested. Bile converts the fats into fatty acids, making it easier for your digestive system to absorb. Resulting in a raised cholesterol level.

Also, studies have found out that cafestol takes control of the intestinal pathway necessary for metabolizing fats. It hijacks the receptor and increases the cholesterol level up to 6% in a month.  Keep in mind if you are looking to lower down your increased bad cholesterol, you should also opt for plant-based less fattening milk options.

Below I have prepared a chart for your milk options to add to coffee which can help you when you are cutting down your fat intake. I have mentioned the fats content of each for 8 fl oz.

Milk NameTypeFats
Cow MilkWhole8 grams
Cow Milk1%2 grams
Cow MilkSkim0 grams
Almond MilkUnsweetened3 grams
Soy MilkUnsweetened4 grams
Coconut MilkUnsweetened5 grams
Rice MilkUnsweetened2 grams

Is Instant Coffee Bad For Cholesterol?

the coffee berry on the plant.

Instant coffee isn’t bad for cholesterol. This is because it contains very low amounts of cafestol because of the way it’s processed. Lower cafestol means almost no harmful effects leading to bad levels of cholesterol.

Instant Coffee as the name suggests is the fastest yet cheapest way to brew a fresh cup of coffee. It’s convenient and very easy to make.

It contains a little less caffeine than regular coffee and has more concentration of anti-oxidants. Also, it contributes to being the most popular way of making coffee in most countries with 50% of people using it every day.

But if regular coffee can be bad for your cholesterol, instant coffee should also be, right?

Well, fortunately, that’s not the case.

Instant coffee is made from dried coffee extracts. The regular coffee beans are brewed slowly in water in a concentrated manner. Then after the brewing process is completed, the water is discarded and the fragments are further processed in either way:

  • Spray Drying- air is used to dry the coffee extracts.
  • Freeze Drying- vacuum is used with low temperature to dry coffee extracts.

All this processing through which instant coffee goes before being ready for shipment, the compounds which are responsible for targeting cholesterol are flushed out from the coffee. Therefore, making it safe for consumption and not giving any negative impact.

What Kind Of Coffee Is Good For Cholesterol?

Simply put, instant coffee, lighter roasts, and filtered coffees are your best bet when you want cholesterol-safe coffee. Mostly these three kinds of coffee can be good for your cholesterol.

For many years, cholesterol was misunderstood. It was always seen as the bad guy. Many people avoided eating nutritious foods like eggs thinking it may harm them because of the cholesterol.

But recent researches have solved this misconception. They differentiated between the bad cholesterol called LDL from the good cholesterol called HDL.

Coffee itself doesn’t contain any form of cholesterol. But the coffee oil has the diterpene called cafestol which is very potent and can elevate your cholesterol levels to a great degree.

And high LDL may lead to heart diseases and even early death. But all this is possible because of coffee? Yes, it is. But you don’t have to worry.

I have listed below the kinds of coffee you can enjoy without having to worry about cholesterol.

a coffee brewing in a moka pot.

Filtered Coffee

I wrote a separate article explaining coffee filters if you’re interested, but simply put, any kind of coffee that has been brewed without any paper filter or fabric filter called sock filter contains cafestol.

The main point is that you need to use a filter for brewing your coffee. Most French presses have a mesh filter that does not remove the cafestol.  This results in having the largest amount of cafestol among all kinds of coffees.

You can watch this video which gives some insightful information about the various coffee brew methods.

you must watch this before buying your own coffee maker

Darker Roast

Darker roasts tend to have less cafestol than lighter roasts. This is because the light roast coffee beans are roasted for a short time. Whereas the darker roasts are roasted for a longer time. Studies show the more time coffee beans are heated the lesser the cafestol.  

Instant Coffee

Instant coffee also has the same mechanism as darker roasts. Since it is processed in the heat with water at high temperatures, the concentration of cafestol is negligible thus making it safe for you to consume. You can choose any instant coffee as they are readily available.

Bottom Line

Coffee itself doesn’t contain any cholesterol. But it does have compounds like cafestol which may halt your body’s ability to digest cholesterol.

Since cafestol is a very potent substance present in coffee, it should be avoided. By drinking coffee in moderation and having only filtered coffee you remove the risk of consuming this cholesterol booster by 99%.

You can make small changes in the brewing method and use something like Moka Pot to make your coffee. This way you can use coffee to your advantage and will not get high cholesterol.

Also, keep in mind that when you starting using filters for your coffee, it doesn’t give you the ticket to consume endless amounts of it. It can still be harmful to other parts of your body if not drunk in moderation.

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Matt Marshall

As I learn more and more about coffee and coffee products I want to share all my learnings with you here on this website. I hope you find my articles useful and entertaining to read.

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