Making Your Coffee This Way Could Spike Heart Disease Risk, New Study Finds

Coffee has health benefits, but could also be hurting your heart.

Waking up in the morning to a fresh pot of coffee is one of life's simple pleasures. Some of us pour a cup to jump start our day, while others like to sample and savor different varieties. If you prepare your coffee at home, you may be interested to learn that how you make it actually has implications for your health. Read on to find out which coffee-making method could actually increase your risk of heart disease.

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Previous research has shown coffee's health benefits.

woman holding coffee cup
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Earlier this year, data presented at the American College of Cardiology's 71st Annual Scientific Session found that drinking coffee—two to three cups each day in particular—actually lowers your risk of heart disease and dangerous heart rhythms. Researchers suggested that coffee is a beneficial addition to your diet, as coffee beans have over 100 biologically active compounds.

The pros and cons of caffeine are often debated, but study investigators found that decaf coffee did not have favorable effects against incident arrhythmia. New findings, however, evaluated another coffee component that could hurt your heart.

One method of coffee preparation may increase heart disease risk.

french press coffee
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You might want to rethink using your French press for your coffee, as a new study published in the Open Heart journal found that unfiltered boiled coffee was associated with an increase in serum total cholesterol (S-TC). This increase in cholesterol can cause blockage in your arteries and later lead to heart disease.

"Our findings regarding boiled/plunger coffee are the same as in the 1980s, pointing toward results being generalizable," the study authors wrote. "This supports previous health recommendations to reduce intake of boiled/plunger coffee because of its capabilities to increase S-TC."

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Men who drink espresso may have more cause for concern.

brewing espresso coffee
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When looking at questionnaire responses from 21,083 Norwegian adults over the age of 40, investigators assessed different brewing methods, including boiled/plunger coffee, filtered coffee, and instant coffee. On average, men drank almost five cups of coffee daily, while women drank just under four.

When looking at those who drank espresso (which is unfiltered), data showed a significant association with increased cholesterol—more so in men than in women—and those who drank three to five cups of espresso each day were found to be at greater risk than those who drank none.

In comparison, drinking more than six cups of filtered coffee was associated with only a small increase in cholesterol accumulation in women, but not in men. Instant coffee, however, was not found to have a dose-response relationship for either men or women, meaning that while cholesterol levels did increase, it was not connected with an increase in daily cups of coffee.

Coffee's impact on cholesterol (and your heart) is connected to the brewing method.

older man having chest pain
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According to researchers, coffee contains diterpenes compounds, namely cafestol and kahweol. Previous research has connected these compounds with increased cholesterol levels, which may also increase your risk of coronary heart disease. Filtered coffee has much lower levels of these compounds, so you might want to make a switch from unfiltered varieties like Turkish and Arabic coffee.

Those who drink fewer than two cups of coffee a day probably don't need to be too concerned about study findings, Tom Sanders, DSc, PhD, professor emeritus of nutrition and dietetics at King's College London, told The Telegraph. However, if you are firing up the Keurig more than three times a day, you may want to take caution when consuming too much coffee, Sanders said.

Researchers from the most recent study pointed to the need to better understand the effects of espresso. Less is known about its cafestol and kahweol content, as few studies have looked into it. And while the 2021 European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Guidelines on cardiovascular disease say moderate coffee consumption (between three and four cups per day) is not thought to harm your health—and may even be helpful—there is no "succinct recommendation" for espresso coffee, researchers said.

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