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Coffee Oils: Are They Good or Bad For You

I cannot imagine my day without coffee. Every morning, I brew Arabica beans, which I bought from the grocery. Since I love drinking coffee, I also bought my own grinder. I often buy about two kilos of coffee beans, good for a month’s use. Sometimes, this amount only lasts for two weeks, when friends come over to our house and have coffee with me and my husband.

I brew my coffee using a traditional coffee maker. You can say that we drink filtered coffee every day since I use a paper filter for my coffee maker. But I also have a French press, which I use outdoors. It’s very convenient to use when you have friends and you want to serve unlimited coffee. You just need to rinse the French press, add scoops of ground coffee beans, and add hot water.

But, I actually notice that my coffee from the French press is “greasier” than my regular filtered coffee. I can see a thin film of oil on the surface of my coffee. And I can feel the grease when I wash the French press.

Have you also made this observation? What is that oil on your coffee? Is it healthy or not?

Note: If you ever use a large coffee urn you’ll probably see the same type of oil floating on the top that you see with french press coffee.

Coffee Oil: Is it Good or Bad For You?

Are Coffee Oils Bad for YouCoffee is often associated with caffeine. Caffeine is a natural stimulant. This led many to believe that coffee is addictive. Coffee has developed a bad reputation among people because of the misinformation circulating around. Coffee has been accused of stunting growth, causing heartburn and dehydration. However, several medical studies proved that there is no basis for these negative claims.

But there is one concern about coffee that raised more warning among people than others. Oil in coffee can increase cholesterol levels. If one over-consumed coffee, there was a risk of developing heart disease.

Before you freak out, read this article to the end and get clear information regarding the link between coffee and cholesterol. Do not make immediate associations and raise worry among your family members and friends.

Coffee beans are roasted in order to be used for brewing. When unroasted, coffee beans contain acids, protein and caffeine. Once heat is applied, a chemical reaction occurs and natural carbohydrate turns into aromatic oils. Coffee beans contain natural oils, cafestol and kahweol. These oils are released during roasting. This process gives coffee its color, flavor and aroma.

According to a 2007 study published in the journal Molecular Endocrinology, researchers found that cafestol in coffee controls an important bile acid receptor located in the intestines. This bile receptor helps regulate cholesterol in the body. When cafestol enters the intestine, it triggers the bile acid receptor to produce additional cholesterol. Dr. David Moore, one of the researchers, noted that cafestol is the only known cholesterol-elevating agent found in plant-based dietary products.

As early as 1994, a study published in the Journal of Lipid Research determined the effect of coffee oil intake on our body. The results showed that cafestol raised cholesterol and triglycerides levels in the body. During the four-week study period, coffee drinkers of boiled coffee showed an increase in cholesterol levels. Findings further showed that most of the increase of cholesterol was of LDL, a known bad cholesterol that can lead to heart-related problems.

In another study, published in the 2001 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, scientists found that consumption of unfiltered coffee raised LDL cholesterol levels, total levels, and triglycerides.

Dr. Michael J. Klag, the vice dean for clinical investigation at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and his colleagues reviewed more than a dozen studies that looked at the relationship between coffee consumption and cholesterol levels. They found that drinking an average of six cups of coffee a day was associated with increased total cholesterol and LDL, the harmful type of cholesterol. Nearly all of the rise in cholesterol was linked to unfiltered coffee.

Related – See this post for more on the effect of french press coffee on your cholesterol levels.

It is interesting to note that none of the studies say the coffee, per se, is causing the increase in cholesterol level. One common finding is that unfiltered coffee or boiled coffee is the source of coffee oil. High concentrations of cafestol are present in unfiltered coffee, the end product of boiled coffee or a French press. Filtered coffee, the kind typically seen with traditional coffee makers, contains very little of the coffee oils.

Unfiltered coffee has much less effect on your heart disease risk than smoking, high blood pressure or being overweight. But if you want to optimize your cholesterol levels, you should avoid large daily amounts of unfiltered coffee. – Dr. Martijn B. Katan, a professor at the Wageningen Center for Food Sciences and Wageningen University.

If you are concerned about the health effects of cholesterol then maybe you should just start using that french press for tea instead.

Good vs Bad Cholesterol

Your body needs cholesterol. Cholesterol helps to build new cells, insulate nerves and produce hormones, according to the Cholesterol Doctor website. There are two types of cholesterol: low density lipoprotein, or LDL, and high density lipoprotein, or HDL. LDL cholesterol is considered to be “bad” cholesterol while HDL is considered to be “good.” The job of HDL is to carry LDL back to the liver to be excreted out of the body. If you have too much LDL cholesterol circulating in your blood, it sticks to your artery walls.

According to Mayo Clinic, HDL acts like a vacuum for cholesterol in the body. When it’s at healthy levels in your blood, it removes extra cholesterol and plaque buildup in your arteries and then sends it to your liver. Your liver expels it from your body. Ultimately, this will help reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

The American Heart Association recommends getting a cholesterol blood test by age 20. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about getting one sooner if you’re at risk for heart conditions or you’re overweight or obese.

An ideal HDL level is 60 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dL) or above. Your HDL is considered low if it’s below 40 mg/dL. You should aim to have HDL levels between 40 and 60 mg/dL.

Food and drinks directly affects the cholesterol level in our body. Imagine eating a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast. Then, you eat a fried chicken for lunch. Afterward, you felt a craving for steak and ate one for dinner. Finally, you allowed yourself a bowl of ice cream an hour before sleeping. These foods spell LDL, not your ideal cholesterol level in the body.

However, the cafestol in coffee does not increase your LDL the way that these foods pump up the cholesterol in your blood. You should feel a lot safer brewing a single cup french press every morning than you do eating your morning bacon and eggs.

Related – If you like to drink more than one cup at a time it’s best to use an insulated french press so that your coffee doesn’t get too cold between servings.

Should you Stop Drinking Coffee?

I do not think that the answer is an easy as “drink coffee” or “do not drink coffee”.

We all have different preferences when it comes to our favorite foods and drinks. After reviewing these studies, I think it warns us that boiled or unfiltered coffee like what you would get in a french press, percolator, or moka pot has its risks. It can increase your cholesterol level if you use it regularly.

Now, if you want to enjoy a healthier cup of coffee, choose filtered coffee like what you’d find in a drip coffee maker, pour over, Aeropress.

Use a paper filter on your coffee maker instead of a gold tone permanent filter. This way, the paper traps the coffee oil and you get the same antioxidants, caffeine without the cafestol.

In reality, there are more foods and drinks that can increase your cholesterol coffee other than unfiltered coffee. If you eat fast food and fried foods often, the amount of trans fat present in these foods is enough to cause you a heart attack sooner than you think.

Enjoy your coffee by choosing a healthier brew. It’s that simple!

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