Filtered coffee could be healthier than unfiltered

Filtered coffee may be better for health than unfiltered, according to new research. (Rawpixel pic)

GOTHENBURG: If you’re drinking more coffee to get you through the current Covid-19 confinements, then you might want to switch to filtered, according to new research, as it could be more beneficial for the heart than unfiltered.

Carried out by researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, the new study is the first to look at the link between filtered and unfiltered coffee and the risk of heart attacks and death, after study author Professor Dag S Thelle found in his previous research that unfiltered coffee has around 30 times the concentration of substances which can raise cholesterol than filtered coffee.

To investigate whether filtering coffee, which removes these cholesterol-raising substances, could be better for heart health, the researchers looked at 508,747 healthy men and women aged 20 to 79 and asked them to complete a questionnaire on the amount of coffee they drank and the brewing method they used.

The researchers also collected data on other factors such as smoking status, education, physical activity, height, weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol, which may influence both coffee consumption and heart diseases. The participants were then followed for an average of 20 years.

The findings, published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, showed that drinking filtered coffee was linked with a 15% reduced risk of death from any cause, as well as a 12% reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease in men and a 20% lower risk in women, compared to drinking no coffee at all.

“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,” commented Prof Thelle.

The researchers also found that those who drank one to four cups of filtered coffee per day had the lowest mortality rates.

Filtered coffee, which tends to be more popular in the USA, includes drip and pour over coffee, such as V60 and Chemex coffee, and any other coffees which pass through a filter.

Unfiltered coffee includes espresso, Turkish coffee and those made using a French press or moka pot, none of which use a filter.

While filtered coffee was better for heart health than unfiltered, Professor Thelle notes that unfiltered coffee did not raise the risk of death, compared to not drinking coffee, except among men aged 60 and above; in this group unfiltered coffee was linked with a higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

“We only had one measurement of coffee consumption, but we know that brewing habits were changing in Norway during the follow-up period.

“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,” explained Prof Thelle.

“Our study provides strong and convincing evidence of a link between coffee brewing methods, heart attacks and longevity,” said Professor Thelle, “Unfiltered coffee contains substances which increase blood cholesterol.

“Using a filter removes these and makes heart attacks and premature death less likely.”

“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.”