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.
--Apple-Mail-60--732523271 Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit Content-Type: text/plain; charset -ASCII; delsp=yes; format=flowed 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 --Apple-Mail-60--732523271 Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Content-Type: text/html; charset O-8859-1 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).
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