Coffee aficionados often prefer French press coffee for good reason: it produces a rich and flavorful cup of coffee without the bitterness or burnt taste that commonly accompanies automatic drip brew. French presses are also inexpensive and allow one to savor a cup of coffee without rushing through the process.
However, after Harvard Health Letter editor Heidi Godman wrote that French press coffee may raise bad cholesterol, many wondered whether they should stop drinking unfiltered coffee altogether.
Bad news for French press lovers?
Godman’s article stem from a statement made by Dr. Eric Rimm, Harvard professor of epidemiology and nutrition, claiming that drinking five to eight cups of unfiltered coffee everyday could possibly raise LDL cholesterol levels. Why? Because the oily goodness that makes French press coffee taste so divine, formally known as diterpenes, have been shown to increase cholesterol levels.
Note that Dr. Rimm mentioned people needing to drink between five and eight cups of French press or unfiltered coffee per day to raise cholesterol levels — few people actually drink that much coffee everyday, and even so, what about the studies linking coffee to positive health benefits?
There have been studies showing that coffee can help reverse liver damage, lead to a longer life, and ward off certain illnesses and diseases. All of this conflicting information has left some coffee drinkers confused about what to do.
The Truth about the Risk
When Heidi Godman wrote that diterpenes have been “shown to have a negative impact on health”, it wasn’t stated under what conditions and from where — coffee isn’t the only substance in existence that contains the compound. In fact, there have been scientific studies showing that diterpenes hold promise as a therapy for those with heart disease.
The good news for French press coffee lovers is there’s truly no need to stop drinking your favorite style of brew. Though LDL is the “bad” cholesterol — HDL cholesterol is beneficial — we all have it in our bodies.
If you live a lifestyle in which you get an overload of LDL cholesterol from other sources, perhaps you should think about slowing down your intake of unfiltered coffee. However, those who maintain an average level of health have little to worry about.
It’s All About Moderation
Whether you like French press, automatic drip, instant, or any other type of coffee, it’s best to drink it in moderation rather than consuming too much in a day. Drinking more than five cups of coffee each day means you’re taking in a significant amount of caffeine.
To cut back a bit while still getting your coffee fix, try drinking smaller servings or subbing in strong tea once you hit five cups of java in a day. And if you’re really concerned about the claims about coffee and cholesterol, simply pour your French press brew through an unbleached filter before drinking it.
Very little of the research pertaining to coffee, particularly French press style, is conclusive. Furthermore, much of the news surrounding the positive and negative effects of drinking it aren’t backed by any valid research studies at all.
The first French press was patented in 1929, and people around the world have been using them ever since without any ill effects. Rather than getting stressed over the matter, use your judgment and enjoy your brew in moderation.