Whether you’re a six cups of instant a day or one cup of artisanal brew sort of person, coffee is a drink adored by weary adults far and wide, but depending on your breed of brew the health outcomes can differ. Now, thanks to science, a study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology has cracked the healthiest cuppa.
And the winner is… filtered coffee! Here’s why…
Coffee is a stimulant, which is why it can help perk us up when we’re feeling a little worse for wear. Around 30 years ago, study author Professor Dag S. Thelle of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, discovered that coffee consumption could result in a raised total cholesterol and an increase in the "bad" LDL cholesterol. The increase was considered significant enough to have a detrimental impact on health and longevity. The link was investigated further and Thelle and his team were able to pinpoint the guilty substances within coffee. It was found that using a filter could remove these as a cup of filtered coffee contained 30 times less lipid-raising substances compared to unfiltered.
The actual impact of unfiltered coffee compared to filtered wasn’t thoroughly understood, but for moral reasons the researchers couldn’t conduct a study encouraging people to consume it and find out. Instead, from 1985 to 2003, the study looked at the coffee habits of 508,747 healthy Norweigan men and women. The participants divulged in a survey how much and what type of coffee they consumed in a survey, the results of which were compared against data on their lifestyles and health records.
The research group was followed up for an average of 20 years, and of the 508,747participants a total of 46,341 died. Of those, 12,621 deaths were from cardiovascular disease and 6,202 of which were caused by a heart attack. Analysis of the results found that by and large, drinking coffee was not a dangerous habit. Drinking filtered coffee was actually found to be safer than not drinking any coffee at all, with a 12 percent and 20 percent reduction in risk of death from cardiovascular disease for men and women respectively. The lowest risk of death was seen in coffee drinkers limiting themselves to one to four cups a day.
Professor Thelle of the study said in a statement: "The finding that those drinking the filtered beverage did a little better than those not drinking coffee at all could not be explained by any other variable such as age, gender, or lifestyle habits. So we think this observation is true."
The research also noted that unfiltered coffee didn’t appear to raise the risk of death from cardiovascular disease when compared to abstaining, apart from males aged 60 and above, but this might have been due to inconsistent coffee drinking habits. Thelle said, "We believe that some women and younger men drinking unfiltered coffee switched to filtered, thereby reducing the strength of the association with cardiovascular mortality, whereas older men were less inclined to change their habits."
Professor Thelle emphasized that his conclusions are built on observational data, but is confident that the findings constitute convincing evidence of a link between coffee brewing methods, heart attacks, and life span. He stated that, if pushed by health authorities for his advice, it would be: "For people who know they have high cholesterol levels and want to do something about it, stay away from unfiltered brew, including coffee made with a cafetière. For everyone else, drink your coffee with a clear conscience and go for filtered."