What You Need to Know to Keep Your Coffee Habit Healthy


Slowly but surely, coffee’s name has been cleared of its bad health reputation. In what is truly a 180, coffee has gone from being a cause of heart disease and cancer to being linked with lower overall mortality risk, and other potential health benefits like protecting against certain diseases. The Mayo Clinic explains that this about face has to do with early research not factoring in a coffee drinker’s other habits — such as smoking and a sedentary lifestyle.

But your cup of joe isn’t in the clear just yet. There is some evidence connecting unfiltered coffees with slight, but significant upticks cholesterol levels. Another potential threat to health comes from consuming too much caffeine, and then there are the health factors associated with what people choose to add to their coffee drinks. It is easy to navigate coffee’s potential pitfalls though, once you know what to look for and manage.

Control your cholesterol

Cholesterol is up first because this can easily be controlled based on whether or not you use a paper filter, or consume unfiltered coffee. (Unfiltered coffees include Turkish and Scandinavian styles, along with coffee made using a French press.) Cafestol and kahweol – The Harvard Health Letter explains – are coffee’s two main cholesterol-raising ingredients, and are classified as diterpenes. These substances make their presence known in the form of oily droplets or exist in the grounds.

When a paper filter is used, cafestol and kahweol get caught and mostly do not pass through to your brew, which is why filtered coffee is not thought to raise cholesterol. If at this point, you’re wondering where espresso falls on the spectrum, it occupies a grey middle ground. Although it has more cafestol and kahweol than filtered coffee, you don’t drink as much of it in one sitting as you do when you make boiled coffee. Less consumption lessens the risk of raising cholesterol.