Why does drinking coffee increase cholesterol?

Coffee is the drink number 1 in the world, and cholesterol is one of the most common health concerns, so it should not surprise us the number of questions that arise from whether coffee has cholesterol.

Coffee and high cholesterol are not necessarily related, although to fine-tune the answer, it is necessary to first know some basic notions of chemistry and the organic composition of coffee.

If you want to know the truth about coffee and its effect on cholesterol, read on to find out.

Is coffee bad for cholesterol?

Yes, coffee can aggravate the effects of this disease. However, there are alternative measures to avoid it, such as controlling the intake of this drink, consuming previously filtered coffee, or replacing it with other drinks such as green tea.

The diterpenes of coffee

Almost all coffee drinks contain cafestol. What is cafestol? It is a molecule capable of raising bad cholesterol levels. Also, although to a lesser extent, kahweol appears.

Both components, cafestol, and kahweol are diterpenes (so named because of their chemical structure). And it is precisely the diterpenes in coffee that are primarily responsible for how coffee affects cholesterol.

Diterpenes, cafestol, and kahweol are not always present in coffee in the same way or the same proportion. Its amounts depend on the origin of the coffee, and the way it is prepared.

For example, robusta coffee beans, which are traditionally considered to be of lower quality, contain half the amount of cafestol than arabica beans. And they hardly contain kahweol.

Here you can read more about cholesterol and diterpenes in coffee.

The solution: use filters for coffee

filtering coffee

Coffee made from filter paper has the least effect on cholesterol levels, as it removes diterpenes, which can increase levels of bad cholesterol.

However, the presence of this chemical compound is detrimental to health when consuming unfiltered coffee (for example, Turkish coffee).

These diterpenes are extracted with hot water so that in an espresso coffee, for example, they can go directly to the cup. At the same time, in preparation with filtrate, they can be retained in the paper filter without going into the drink.

In those preparation processes that use filters (electric and drip coffee machines, for example), the amount of this substance is harmless. Who would have thought that coffee and cholesterol were linked before the arrival of the many coffee machines that offer paper filters...

Not so long ago, most people made their coffee by pressing, boiling, or brewing beer. The remaining diterpenes in these cases are likely to cause an increase in total cholesterol and an increase in triglycerides.

Today, depending on how much coffee we consume and other factors, anyone using a non-paper filtration method to make coffee is still prone to high cholesterol levels.

The appearance of the paper filter changed the relationship between coffee and cholesterol for good because the paper eliminates the cafestol. In addition, some coffees have lower levels of cafestol, as is the case of Arabica, a very mild coffee that has become very popular.

Other ways to drink coffee

Going to the other extreme, in the coffee that is prepared by infusions, such as Turkish coffee or pot coffee, there is little retention or filtration of grounds (everything stays in the cup), so the rate of diterpenes in the coffee that we drink is almost the maximum possible. This type of unfiltered coffee preparations increases LDL and the presence of triglycerides.

Deprived of Cafestol, coffee alone does not have much of an impact on cholesterol. Still, additions to coffee, such as cream or other beverages, can still increase low-density and high-density lipoproteins (LDL and HDL).

A lot of people continue to drink brewed coffee in ways that can especially raise LDL or bad cholesterol. Any percolates, or beverages that contain or are made from coffee, have cafestol.

People who want to break the connection between coffee and cholesterol should opt for paper filter drip brewing methods instead.

With caffeine or decaf?

decaf coffee

Many people try to sell decaffeinated coffee as a healthy alternative to coffee that contains caffeine.

There is one important fact about caffeine-laden coffee and its effect on cholesterol that should not be overlooked: caffeine reduces the negative effects of cholesterol.

Therefore, it is likely to have a reduced effect on LDLs as would a decaf, a decaffeinated espresso, or a cup of French coffee. It can also protect the body and brain from the negative effects of higher cholesterol levels.

On the other hand, caffeine increases blood pressure, which presents a different type of risk for heart disease.


We must bear in mind other determining factors that can develop the harmful effects of coffee on our body and increase the risk of cholesterol.

First of all, it is essential to always drink coffee in moderation, without exceeding the recommended daily dose, which ranges between 2 or 3 cups.

Secondly, not everyone assimilates the intake of this drink in the same way. Those people who suffer from hypertension should reduce their consumption because coffee increases the tension.

In addition, for those who regularly ingest more coffee than is convenient, it is advisable to replace it with other drinks such as green tea, ideal for its high antioxidant content.

Also, it is well known that diet plays a decisive role in keeping cholesterol at bay. A healthy and balanced diet promotes blood circulation by keeping the arteries clean.

For this reason, when drinking coffee, it is essential to watch what is added; condensed milk, cream or excess sugar considerably increase blood cholesterol levels.

When evaluating the relationship between coffee and cholesterol, it is important not to see this relationship as the response to LDL and HDL regulation. Coffee is not the only drink that people consume, and also the rest of the diet needs a lot of attention.

Changing behaviors like smoking, heavy drinking, and lack of exercise can also lead to better cholesterol control.

To find out if coffee gives cholesterol, the first thing you should always do is consult your GP. The opinion of a medical professional should always be above the guiding information that we can give the Internet media.