Coffee and cholesterol in epidemiological and experimental studies

Atherosclerosis. 1987 Oct;67(2-3):97-103. doi: 10.1016/0021-9150(87)90270-x.


Twenty-two cross-sectional studies involving 130,000 persons from 8 different countries have reported their findings on the association between coffee consumption and cholesterol levels. Results of these reports display a variety of trends in the association between coffee intake and serum cholesterol concentrations: 8 (36%) studies demonstrated a significant positive association in both sexes, and 5 (23%) studies showed no association in men or women. In 3 other reports where both sexes were included, significant positive association was observed only in women. The remaining 6 investigations examined only men with 4 (18%) reporting a significant correlation between coffee and cholesterol. This unexplained incongruity of cross-sectional data points to a relationship between coffee and cholesterol in some populations, which needs to be further explored. In addition, HDL cholesterol levels appeared unrelated to coffee intake in the 11 studies in which it was measured. The 7 available human experiments showed the same low level of agreement in the results among small numbers of volunteers. Experiments involving different brewing methods suggest that a major part of the cholesterol-increasing effect can be explained by different brewing methods. A critical assessment of the published reports leads to the conclusion that the data are insufficient to warrant public health admonitions against coffee drinking, but that it may be of clinical importance in some hypercholesterolemic individuals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Coffee / adverse effects*
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Factors


  • Coffee
  • Cholesterol