Background: Elevated concentrations of plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) and serum total cholesterol are risk factors for ischemic heart disease (IHD). Previous studies showed that the consumption of very high doses of unfiltered coffee increases tHcy and total cholesterol.
Objective: A prospective intervention study was performed to assess the effects of coffee consumption on the concentrations of tHcy and total cholesterol by using doses and brewing methods common in southeastern Norway.
Design: The study was an unblinded, controlled trial with 191 healthy, nonsmoking, coffee-drinking volunteers aged 24-69 y randomly assigned to 3 groups who were asked to consume for 6 consecutive weeks no coffee, 1-3 cups (approximately 175-525 mL)/d, or > or =4 cups (approximately 700 mL)/d prepared in the manner to which they were accustomed. Blood samples were drawn when the subjects were randomly assigned and at 3 and 6 wk of the trial. Dietary data were collected by questionnaire.
Results: Ninety-seven percent of the participants reported being regular consumers of caffeinated filtered coffee. Abstention from coffee for 6 wk was associated with a decrease in the tHcy concentration of 1.08 micromol/L and a decrease in the total cholesterol concentration of 0.28 mmol/L in participants who had been drinking on average 4 cups of filtered coffee daily for the past year. Adjustments for several possible confounders did not alter the results.
Conclusion: Abstention from filtered coffee in doses that are commonly consumed was associated with lower concentrations of tHcy and total cholesterol.