It turns out that the way you brew your coffee, with your gender could have an impact on your cholesterol levels.

Researchers from UiT-The Arctic University of Norway found that men who drink up to three to five cups of espresso daily had higher cholesterol levels. And when it came to filtered coffee, women were at a greater risk of having increased cholesterol levels.

The study which was published in the journal Open heart looked at the relationship between cholesterol and the intake of espresso coffee in both men and women. It also delved into the intake of other differently brewed coffee effects on cholesterol levels in both genders.

Findings from a previous study showed that coffee beans contain natural chemicals such as diterpenes, cafestol, and kahweol capable of increasing serum total cholesterol levels in the blood. 

Study Methodology

For this study, the researchers culled data from the seventh survey of the Tromsø Study in Northern Norway. Norway is currently the country with the highest consumption of coffee. The study involved responses from over 20,000 participants who were all above the age of 40.

With the aid of questionnaires, they gathered information regarding participants’ coffee consumption. Participants also gave out information on the type of coffee they preferred with options ranging from filtered coffee, boiled/plunger coffee, instant, and espresso from coffee machines, or capsules.

Next, the team collected blood samples along with measurements of their height and weight to calculate body mass index (BMI).

Factors such as whether they smoked or took alcohol or ever had diabetes or engaged in any form of physical activity were all taken into consideration.


Women averaged four cups of coffee per day while men drank an average of five cups. Their analysis revealed that the relationship between coffee and cholesterol differed between brews.

Firstly, men who drank up to three to five cups of espresso daily had increased cholesterol levels than men who didn’t drink at all. On the other hand, drinking boiled/plunger coffee alone was linked with higher cholesterol levels in both genders. For filtered coffee, drinking up to 6 cups or more caused a rise in cholesterol levels, but only for women. While drinking many cups of instant coffee was shown to be tied to high cholesterol levels but the cholesterol levels didn’t seem to increase with an increase in cups. 

Coffee is the most commonly consumed stimulant around the world and according to the study authors, since people drink it in excess, even small health effects could accompany considerable health consequences.

“If you already have high cholesterol levels or have had a heart attack, then filter coffee or instant coffee is preferable. It affects your cholesterol the least,” said the lead author of the study, Professor Maja-Lisa Løchen.

The team points to the fact that they didn’t use a standardized cup size. And that compared to Italians, Norwegians drink from larger espresso cups, meaning that they consume more diterpenes with every cup of coffee.

In addition, they also note that espresso-based coffee from coffee machines, capsules, or an espresso pot most likely contains varying levels of these cholesterol-raising chemicals. 


Overall, their findings add vital information concerning the relationship between various brewing processes and serum total cholesterol in both men and women. It also sheds light on how drinking espresso-based coffee could potentially increase serum cholesterol levels in men specifically.

Finally, the team hopes this finding will improve the recommendations regarding how people consume coffee and possibility seek alternatives to coffee when health risks are present.

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