Does French Press Coffee Increase Cholesterol?

Coffee is arguably the most drunk liquid in the world, aside from water. Every morning, billions of people could not start a day without a good cup of joe. In between their activities during the day, coffee lovers cannot help, but grab another cup or two. Aside from a morning booster, coffee is also a common drink among people who want to catch up with friends and relatives. Even business meetings have made coffee a staple drink.

Due to its popularity, coffee had been a subject of several studies and researches as health experts look into the effects of coffee on our bodies. One of the recent topics involves the use of the coffee press and how the relatively unfiltered coffee affect the cholesterol level in our body.

If you love to drink French press coffee, you might want to consider the findings associated with unfiltered coffee and your cholesterol level. According to a study, consumption of cafestol and kahweol, compounds common in coffee, may contribute to the rise in LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol.

What is a French Press?

Before we dig deeper into the effects of coffee and cholesterol increase, let’s pause for a while and talk about this growing trend among coffee lovers – French press. The Europeans have been using this method of making coffee for a long time and they feel that the coffee from a French press has a bolder and better taste. After all, the coffee is less filtered and you can control the temperature of the water you use.

If you think that boiling water is good for coffee, think again. The perfect water temperature is about 80 degrees Celsius. Coffee is not burnt by the scalding water. In some cases, coffee aficionados use cold brew to get a lighter taste without adding sweetener.

How to use a French press?

French press is now readily available in the market. You can even find one in your favorite coffee shop. You can use cold water or hot water (with the right temperature) and coarsely ground coffee beans.

Let the ground coffee beans steep for at least 3 minutes. You press an attached mesh plunger from the top of the pitcher to the bottom to strain the liquid and trap the coffee grounds.

What makes French press coffee popular?

It has something to do with the taste of the coffee. Because French press has no filter, some of the natural oils found in coffee beans are retained, and you can see a film of oil in your cup of coffee. However, this very oil can potentially pose negative effects on your health.

Experts talk about how French press coffee may increase cholesterol

Without a filter, some of the oily substances found in coffee beans, called diterpenes, wind up in your cup. Coffee aficionados say these oils make the brew taste better, but you should know that diterpenes have been shown to have a negative impact on health. “Five to eight cups a day of unfiltered coffee may actually raise your ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol,” says Dr. Eric Rimm, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

In another study, researchers from Baylor College of Medicine showed that another compound found in coffee beans can trigger a receptor in our intestinal pathway that may produce more LDL, or bad cholesterol.

According to Dr. David Moore, professor of molecular and cellular biology at BCM, and Dr. Marie-Louise Ricketts, a postdoctoral student, cafestol is the most potent dietary cholesterol-elevating agent known.

Meanwhile, Dr. Martijn B. Katan of Vriye of the Universiteit Amsterdam, Institute for Health Sciences in The Netherlands, indicated that consuming five cups of French press coffee per day (30 milligrams of cafestol) for four weeks raises cholesterol in the blood 6 to 8 percent.

Coffee: the good and bad

Coffee, fresh and brewed, has been studied and proven to contain health benefits.

It contains magnesium, potassium, and niacin caffeine, which in small amounts can reduce fatigue and improve alertness and concentration, plus potent compounds such as chlorogenic acid and polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties that help prevent cell damage.

The combination of these compounds can help reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity. Coffee has also been considered an anti-aging drink.

However, keep in mind that the coffee you drink should be fresh and brewed. Also, limit the addition of sugar, creamer, and whipped cream.  If you enjoy drinking coffee topped with double cream, chocolate syrup, and candy sprinkles, you are in big trouble for increasing your cholesterol level.

On the other hand, some health experts argue that the presence of caffeine may not be always beneficial to people. Too much caffeine — more than 300 milligrams per day — may lead to insomnia, nervousness, heart palpitations, and the jitters.

Keep in mind that anything in excess is not good for the body. If you love coffee and cannot live without it, remember to drink in moderation, so you can get the most benefit out of every cup.

Will you still use a French press?

If you choose to drink unfiltered, pressed coffee, health experts recommend that you keep an eye on your cholesterol levels, to make sure your LDL levels don’t rise over time. Also, keep your pressed coffee habit in check: stick to no more than four cups per day. You should also limit your intake of filtered coffee to no more than five cups per day.

Remember, too, that some of the biggest risks of coffee come from what you may add to it: cream, sugar, or sugary syrup. These add saturated fat and empty calories to your diet, boost your blood sugar, and promote weight gain. So be careful about what you put into your cup.

As a coffee lover, I cannot imagine my day without coffee. If you have not tried drinking coffee, this is a good time to explore a cup of joe today. Remember, coffee drinks are not created equal. Some have more benefits than the others, while other types can even pose negative effects on health. However, there is no doubt that coffee has effective health benefits if you keep drinking in moderation and choose a healthier brewing option.

Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

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