NEW YORK (CBS) – If your cholesterol is high, chances are you’ve been told to change your lifestyle.

You probably hear things like, stop smoking, get more exercise and avoid fatty foods. Well, it appears health experts may soon be telling you to cut down on your coffee intake.

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For many people, coffee really hits the spot.

“It gives you a little jolt in the morning,” one person said.

“It’s a wonderful way to start my day,” another person said.

However, cardiologist Dr. Franz Messerli said what’s in your coffee could affect your health — and it has nothing to do with the caffeine.

“Not all coffee is created equal. It depends a great deal on how you brew the coffee,” Dr. Messerli said.

Coffee beans contain two naturally occurring chemicals: cafestol and kahweol. These plant chemicals can actually boost cholesterol, especially LDL, or the so-called “bad cholesterol.”

Using an espresso maker, French press, or drinking boiled coffee keeps more of these chemicals in the brew, compared to preparing it with a coffee filter.

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“We have these natural oily substances in the coffee and, fortunately, when you filter it they are retained in the filter, so we drink less of them,” Dr. Messerli said.

Local residents seemed surprised by this latest news.

High cholesterol increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. So, how much coffee do you have to drink to be concerned?

“You have to drink four to five cups a day before there is a significant increase,” Dr. Messerli said.

Doctors said using a drip filter or single-serving coffee pods removes the coffee chemicals or makes their presence negligible, and that may be a better brew for your health.

“If you do have a distinct history of high cholesterol, you certainly want to be a little bit careful with all substances that potentially can elevate cholesterol,” Dr. Messerli said.

If you’re an espresso lover, it ranks in the middle. It has more chemicals than filtered coffee, but fewer than French pressed.


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Kristine Sorensen