Cholesterol-y Coffee?

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Coffee raises cholesterol?

This was the surprising and disturbing fact I recently learned in an email from my friend Lisa. If true, it means that in addition to changing the way I eat and exercise, and my doctor’s latest advice to reduce my daily wine intake (so not gonna’ happen), I should stop drinking coffee, too.

Cut out wine AND coffee?  Both?



Once my toddler tantrum subsided, I took to the web to do some research. The bad news: there is a coffee-cholesterol connection. The good news: it’s French Press and other unfiltered coffee that increases cholesterol. That’s good for me, but bad for Lisa – she needs to cut back her coffee consumption because she drinks French Press coffee. But I’m a regular joe junkie, so am not boosting my already-high cholesterol with my morning fix.  Whew.

Why do some kinds of coffee increase cholesterol? And by how much? According to the Berkeley Wellness Alert’s The Coffee-Cholesterol Connection:

“Daily consumption of 10 milligrams of cafestol—the amount in about four 5-ounce cups of French-press coffee—has been shown to raise cholesterol by 8% to 10% in four weeks, mostly due to increased LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Some people are affected more than others, and the effects may be greater in those who have higher cholesterol to begin with.”

For those with high cholesterol, French Press coffee is not a good plan. But for those like me who drink ‘regular’ coffee, the issue is moot since, “American-style ‘drip’ coffee has virtually none (of the cholesterol-raising compounds) because the paper filters trap the compounds. Percolated and instant coffees also have negligible amounts.”

So my 2-cups-a-day-of-Keurig-brewed-decaf habit is A-OK. I am still supposed to cut down on wine (again, not gonna’ happen), but I am thrilled to report my coffee habit is safe.

Smugly savoring my hazelnut decaf the next morning, it hit me that I wasn’t exactly sure if coffee brewed in a Keurig machine was, in fact, filtered coffee. I mean, you can’t see a filter. And what if it’s just filtered via the plastic K-cup? Would the plastic filter out the bad stuff?

Panic building, I again hopped online but found nothing. Nowhere could I find an answer to whether K-cups have filters that would trap the cholesterol-raising compounds in coffee. So I resorted to taking apart a K-cup. And look what I found – a brown paper filter inside! See? Isn’t that the cutest little baby paper filter you have ever seen?

OK, roll your eyes at my waxing rhapsodic about the internal guts of a K-cup. But come on, you have to admit it’s cool that there’s a tiny brown paper filter in every K-cup.

And it saves my coffee addiction. For which I’m exceedingly grateful.

But if you drink French Press or Turkish (whatever that is) or some other type of unfiltered coffee, it might be time for a new coffee machine.

Just in time for the holidays.


18 thoughts on “Cholesterol-y Coffee?

  1. Ooh, I almost had a heart attack when I read this post since I drink 4-5 cups of coffee a day so it would kill me.

  2. One thing I’ve noticed is that coffee that comes out of a keurig has an oily film on top of it, wouldn’t this oily film point to the oil that causes the LDL cholesterol?

  3. But, Keurig machines poke a hole in the bottom of K-cups. So, even if there is a filter, it does nothing. Check out the residue at the bottom of your cup after drinking Keurig-brewed coffee … that’s the bad stuff.

  4. I read with excitement what KLS wrote (her discovery) reference the Keurig brewed coffee and the brown liner. Though quickly went horizontal with what the anonymous, killjoy (sorry), replied. What really gives? Should I toss the Keurig?

  5. Hi – while I am certainly no expert, I did do some further research into this. Read more in my post Coffee-The Good, The Bad and the Cholesterol-Ugly. The Keurig does indeed have a filter, so should not be a cholesterol problem. I’m sticking with my daily 2-cup Keurig habit and feel confident that’s a good choice vis-a-vis cholesterol.

  6. There is a gap between the filter and the bottom of the cup so while it does pierce the cup, the filter is still intact.

  7. I tore apart one of my own k-cups (Starbucks) to verify KLS’s and Brittany’s findings and , yes, there is a paper filter attached to the inside of the plastic cup, whose bottom sits approximately 1/4 in. above that of the plastic. I also put it in the machine and closed the cup-holder mechanism to see if the bottom needle would puncture the paper. Nope, not even close.

  8. So happy I found your website, I, too, have high cholesterol!!! 🙁 I had been wondering the same thing, if my Keurig was filtering my coffee!! After searching on the web, I had found that unfiltered coffee could be raising my cholesterol!!! No!!! No!!! No!!! I love my Keurig coffee every day!! After reading your article, I tore open one of the K-cups to see for myself – – how about that!!! It sure enough has a filter in each and every one!!!! So happy to find this out!!!! 🙂 Thank you!!!

  9. I use the reusable “My K -cup” filter, which isn’t paper, rather some kind of mesh. Would you think this would filter out the bad stuff?

  10. Thank you so much everyone for the input! My LDL has spiked for no apparent reason in the last 3 months (couldn’t be all that Halloween candy sitting around or the entire container of sour cream onion dip I ate with the “no salt” potato chips)..Every fall my body wants to start packing on the pounds to get ready for winter. So now I am on the TLC diet for lowering cholesterol, and was panicking I’d have to give up my Keurig coffee at work.

  11. Ok well thanks for all this info and for pulling apart one of your K cups LOL I was wondering if the 3+ cups of coffee I drink a day was adding to my high cholesterol and you have eased my mind. Just like you I am not ready to give up the coffee. Thanks so much!

  12. This has answered all my Q’s. Thank you all! My next query…. why don’t the doctors tell you all about the new connections (sugar, coffee, etc.) and hyperlipidemia? instead they push statins and no thought of, say, enzymes.

  13. So glad you found the answers you were looking for. As for doctors, IMHO they have a lot they are juggling in a busy schedule and while I understand and agree with your sentiment, my experience is the best medical care happens when I advocate for myself. As I can’t change the system, I changed how I manage it (do research and come armed to appointments with very specific questions) to get the best medical care and information from my knowledgeable doctors…

  14. Oh yay! Thank you for your article. Ive kniwn for years that unfiltered coffee can raise cholesterol. However,my cholesterol recently increased raised and I also recently purchased a Keurig. (And love it!) I’m so glad new Keurig is not the culprit. (I too took apart a pod.) I will have to adjust my diet instead. (Recent stress eating and fast foid.)

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