Coffee Improves HDL Cholesterol Levels
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COFFEE IMPROVES HDL CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
Coffee is the second most commonly traded commodity in the world (following oil), and is widely consumed around the world as the second most popular beverage (after water). It is estimated that the coffee industry generates some $60 billion in revenue every year.
In the United States, coffee drinkers consume an average of 3 cups of this caffeine-loaded beverage each day. (Slightly more than 50 percent of Americans drink coffee on a daily basis, while another 30 percent of the population drinks coffee on an occasional basis.)
Many health claims have been for coffee, although few have withstood the scrutiny of serious research. However, previous research studies have suggested that regular coffee consumption may reduce inflammation in the body, and increase HDL levels (HDL is also known as “the good cholesterol”). A newly published clinical research study, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has evaluated these claims, and the results of this research study will be of considerable interest to coffee lovers everywhere.
In this study, 47 volunteers who regularly consumed coffee were evaluated. During the first month of this study, these research volunteers refrained from drinking coffee. During the second month of this study, each volunteer consumed 4 cups of filtered coffee per day (each cup contained 150 ml of coffee). Finally, during the third month of this study, each volunteer consumed a nerve-jangling 8 cups of filtered coffee per day! Blood samples were collected throughout this research study, and were tested for total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (the “bad cholesterol”), and caffeine, as well as for several markers of inflammation.
In this study, the regular daily consumption of 8 cups of coffee per day was found to significantly reduce the blood levels of several proteins associated with chronic inflammation (by as much as 16 percent, when compared to no coffee consumption). Moreover, HDL cholesterol levels increased by 7 percent during the final phase of this study (when compared to the “no coffee” first phase), when the research volunteers were consuming 8 cups of coffee per day (and the ratio between LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol decreased by 8 percent during the final phase of this study). At the same time, although previous research has suggested that coffee consumption may improve glucose control in diabetics, there was no evidence of improved glucose metabolism or blood-glucose levels with increasing coffee intake in this particular study.
Therefore, this intriguing little prospective clinical research study revealed that drinking 8 cups of coffee per day appeared to decrease the level of inflammation-associated proteins in the body, while also increasing levels of heart-healthy HDL cholesterol in the blood. However, this small and brief study cannot answer the very important question of whether or not these observed biochemical changes in the blood will actually translate into improved health. Nonetheless, this study’s finding that HDL cholesterol levels increase with regular daily coffee intake may indeed be good news for folks with mildly-to-moderately decreased HDL levels. Longer term prospective clinical studies will be necessary, however, to quantify the actual health benefit, if any, of regular coffee consumption.
To learn more about the critical role of diet as part of a cancer prevention lifestyle, look for the publication of my new landmark evidence-based book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” in the summer of this year.
Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity
Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author
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