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Topic: coffee and cholesterol (was Re: french press) (3 msgs / 191 lines)
1) From: Randall Nortman
My wife is a nutritional epidemiologist, meaning that she spends her
days analyzing data from all those "diet and exercise" studies you
always read about.  So I've spent some time with her trying to figure
out this whole coffee and health thing.  My answers to some questions
raised here are below:
On Wed, May 16, 2007 at 10:23:29PM -0700, Cameron Forde wrote:
<Snip>
The two compounds in question are cafestol and kahweol, which are
found in the oil components of coffee -- therefore, paper filtered
brewing methods (including Aeropress) have substantially less of these
compounds.  The evidence is strong that they raise blood cholesterol
by a significant amount -- 8% in men and 10% in women, which is a huge
effect as these things go.  There are some hypotheses about the
mechanism by which they do this, but nothing certain yet.  (Mostly,
people seem to be thinking that they mess around with the body's
natural cholesterol balancing mechanisms to tip the scales in favor of
cholesterol production.)
<Snip>
The jury is still out on this.  There are certainly good reasons to
believe that blood cholesterol levels are at least partially causal of
heart disease (as opposed to just correlated), but these things are
extremely difficult to prove.  Lack of proof does not mean that
there's no need to be concerned, because studying these things is so
difficult that it's basically impossible to prove anything about the
relationships among diet, lifestyle, genetics, and health.  Even
things most people consider to be patently obvious are hard or
impossible to prove.  (And as I said, my wife spends all day wrestling
with these problems, so I have a good idea what the limitations of
these studies are.)
<Snip>
There's been a rash of studies on this in the past several years, and
the answer is: We don't know yet.  This is a very complex thing to
study, and it hasn't been studied well enough yet.  Very few of the
studies have even considered different methods of brewing the coffee,
so this whole question of filtered vs. not gets glossed over.  Some
studies just look at caffeine intake, and there's a lot happening in
coffee other than caffeine.
But here's what I've been able to find out: Coffee is full of both
good and bad.  It's got lots of antioxidants (LOTS) and hundreds of
compounds that haven't been studied very well but seem like they're
probably pretty good for you.  This is why some studies have found
that drinking coffee actually reduces the risk of heart disease.  But
it also has some bad things -- cafestol and kahweol for example, plus
too much caffeine can be very bad -- and so some studies find that it
increases the risk of certain diseases.  (Cafestol also, by the way,
has been found to have anti-cancer effects in vitro, so that's good
and bad wrapped up in one single molecule.)  So in the end, it's a
question of whether the good outweighs the bad, or the other way
around, and that almost certainly depends on each individual.
Here's what I've decided: Given my family and personal history, high
cholesterol is my biggest concern, so I drink almost exclusively
filtered coffee (aeropress) for that reason.  In some ways, I get the
best of both worlds that way: All that great antioxidant power of
coffee, without the cholesterol-raising bad stuff.  And it tastes
pretty damned good, too.  Espresso is an occasional treat, as it is
not filtered.  Some people (my wife) are blessed with naturally low
cholesterol no matter what they eat, and might get more benefit from
the (still very unproven) potential anti-cancer effects of cafestol,
so drinking unfiltered might be a good idea for that sort of person.

2) From: Sandy Andina
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Does the data break down which cholesterol (HDL, LDL or VLDL) is  
raised?  And if the latter two are raised, is HDL lowered? If HDL is  
raised, is it large or small-particle?  The higher your HDL (and the  
larger the particles), the more cardioprotective.  Often, a spike in  
total serum cholesterol in one who has been dieting and exercising  
turns out to be due to an increase in HDL.  Total serum cholesterol,  
without analysis of its components, is meaningless.  And even an  
"unhealthy" lipid profile (low HDL and/or high LDL, VLDL, and  
triglyerides) may not be harmful in individuals without other risk  
factors (e.g., hypertension, family history, smoking, diabetes,  
obesity, calcifications, or high inflammation as indicated by high  
homocysteine and c-reactive protein levels).
This info comes from my husband the cardiologist, as well as the  
myriad seminars I've attended.
On May 17, 2007, at 2:50 PM, Randall Nortman wrote:
<Snip>
Sandy Andina
www.sandyandina.com
www.myspace.com/sandyandina
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Does the data break down which =
cholesterol (HDL, LDL or VLDL) is raised?  And if the latter two are =
raised, is HDL lowered? If HDL is raised, is it large or =
small-particle?  The higher your HDL (and the larger the particles), =
the more cardioprotective.  Often, a spike in total serum cholesterol =
in one who has been dieting and exercising turns out to be due to an =
increase in HDL.  Total serum cholesterol, without analysis of its =
components, is meaningless.  And even an "unhealthy" lipid profile =
(low HDL and/or high LDL, VLDL, and triglyerides) may not be harmful in =
individuals without other risk factors (e.g., hypertension, family =
history, smoking, diabetes, obesity, calcifications, or high =
inflammation as indicated by high homocysteine and c-reactive protein =
levels).  
This = info comes from my husband the cardiologist, as well as the myriad = seminars I've attended. On May 17, 2007, at 2:50 PM, = Randall Nortman wrote:
My wife is a nutritional epidemiologist, meaning = that she spends herdays analyzing data from = all those "diet and exercise" studies youalways = read about.  So I've = spent some time with her trying to figureout this = whole coffee and health thing.  = My answers to some questionsraised here = are below:Sandy = Andinawww.sandyandina.comwww.myspace.com/sandyandina=

= = --Apple-Mail-60--732523271--

3) From: Randall Nortman
On Thu, May 17, 2007 at 04:42:19PM -0500, Sandy Andina wrote:
<Snip>
From the NIH review: "Studies have shown that an intake of cafestol
and kahweol causes an increase in total cholesterol as well as low
density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, and alanine
aminotransferase (ALT) activity."
I haven't seen any data that looks specifically at LDL vs. VLDL.  The
NIH report has great summaries of all the major studies as of 1999,
and if you feel like reading through 44 pages of sentences like the
above, it's a great way to spend an afternoon.  I'll provide the link
again:http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/htdocs/Chem_Background/ExSumPdf/Cafestol.pdfI'll also caution again that obsessing about a single compound found
in a single food is probably not a good way to spend your time, but if
you have high blood cholesterol, it is certainly something to think
about if you're currently drinking a lot of unfiltered coffee.  But
keep in mind that coffee seems to have plenty of positive effects as
well.  Wikipedia has a good summary of the suspected effects of coffee
on health, both good and bad, for those who like to obsess about such
things:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffee_and_health


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