May 10 (UPI) — The gender of the drinker, as well as the brewing method used, may be key to the link between coffee and increased cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease, according to a study published Tuesday.
Espresso consumption was associated with the largest gender difference in cholesterol levels between the sexes, while French press or coffee maker was linked with the smallest, according to data published by the journal Open Heart.
Three to five cups of espresso a day increased total cholesterol, particularly in men, compared to non-coffee drinkers, the researchers said.
Consuming six or more cups of French press daily also raised cholesterol, and to a similar degree in both men and women, they said.
Additionally, daily consumption of six or more cups of filtered coffee was associated with increased total cholesterol in women, but not in men, according to the researchers.
Although drinking instant coffee did raise cholesterol in both men and women, it did not increase with the number of cups consumed, the researchers said.
“Coffee is the most frequently consumed central stimulant in the world,” wrote researchers from UiT: Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø.
“Due to high coffee consumption, even small health effects can have huge health consequences,” they said.
Coffee contains natural chemicals, such as the diterpenes cafestol and kahweol, which are known to raise blood cholesterol levels, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Previous studies have linked coffee consumption to an increased risk of heart problems, although the drink has some health benefits.
Brewing method can also impact cholesterol levels, but it’s unclear what impact espresso might have, the Norwegian researchers said.
The results of this study are based on more than 21,083 responses from adults aged 40 and over to a large health survey in the researchers’ hometown of Tromsø.
Participants were asked how many cups of coffee a day they drank and what type of brew they drank, the researchers said.
Blood samples were taken from the participants, and height and weight were also measured. Participants also provided information on diet, health and lifestyle, including smoking, alcohol consumption and physical activity.
Women drank an average of just under four cups of coffee a day, while men drank an average of almost five, according to the data.
There is no obvious explanation for the gender difference in cholesterol response to coffee consumption, the researchers said.
“Interestingly, coffee contains over a thousand diverse phytochemicals, [and] the consumption of each compound also depends on the variety of coffee species, degree of roast, type of brewing method and serving size,” they wrote.
“This shows how coffee contains compounds that can lead to several mechanisms working simultaneously,” they said.