In the United States, around 54% adults drink coffee daily and they average 3 cups a day. It is believed to be safe to drink up to 6 cups of coffee every day. However, people who have trouble with their blood sugar or have high blood pressure, and pregnant women should either avoid coffee or drink decaffeinated coffee.
There are four proven health benefits of drinking coffee:
- Decreased risk of heart disease and stroke
- Reduced risk of type II diabetes
- Protection against gallstones
- Reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease
Coffee is not recommended as a health drink. But, if one is already drinking coffee, he or she may continue consuming it in moderate amounts, since it does not cause any harm. A cup of “black” coffee contains very few calories; 8 oz of coffee has only 2 calories. When it is consumed along with milk, cream, and sugar, the number of calories increase enormously. 1 tablespoon of whole milk has 9 calories, tablespoon of sugar has 48 calories, and 1 tablespoon of cream has 52 calories. Thus, one needs to be careful about the portions added to a cup of coffee. We could end up adding around 100 more calories if we’re not careful!
Some early studies on coffee suggested that drinking the beverage increased cholesterol levels, particularly LDL cholesterol. However, this effect has been found to be restricted to coffee that has not been filtered. This type of coffee includes Scandinavian boiled coffee, Turkish coffee, and coffee brewed in a French press.
The substances present in coffee that raise cholesterol levels are called diterpenes. The two major types of diterpenes present in coffee are cafestol and kahweol. These substances are present in coffee in the form of oily droplets or floating grounds.
To remove these diterpenes from coffee, a paper filter has been found to be the best method. A study published in 2011 suggested that the sock method of filtering coffee, used in Singapore that employs a cotton-nylon cloth, and the metal mesh method of filtering coffee in India, can also capture and remove cafestol.
People who suffer from high cholesterol levels or want to prevent their cholesterol levels from climbing should drink either instant coffee or paper-filtered coffee. Espresso contains greater amounts of cafestol and kahweol as compared to paper-filtered coffee. However, people generally drink small quantities of espresso and hence, it does not have any significant effect on their cholesterol levels.