What is the Connection Between Caffeine and Cholesterol?

N. Madison

Some people have theorized that the connection between caffeine and cholesterol might be a harmful one and have questioned whether or not drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages might lead to a rise in a person’s cholesterol levels. So far, most studies have failed to demonstrate such a connection. This is not to say, however, that there are absolutely no adverse effects to drinking caffeinated beverages. For example, some people have headaches related to caffeine use or even develop an addiction to it.

Coffee, which contains caffeine.
Coffee, which contains caffeine.

Often, the focus of conversations that analyze the relationship between caffeine and cholesterol is on coffee. This may be due to the fact that a large number of people drink coffee on a daily basis. The fact of the matter is, however, that filtered coffee has not been found to increase a person’s cholesterol levels. Likewise, the consumption of coffee has not been linked to heart disease that is related to cholesterol. Additionally, studies have also failed to show a connection between caffeine and cholesterol in people who drink a good deal of tea and soda.

Espresso contains terpenes, which might raise bad cholesterol levels.
Espresso contains terpenes, which might raise bad cholesterol levels.

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Interestingly, some studies have shown a possible connection between raised cholesterol levels and a person's coffee consumption. This connection, however, does not stem from the caffeine in the coffee beverage. Instead, only unfiltered coffee seems to have an adverse effect on a person’s blood cholesterol levels. In such a case, the cause of the problem are terpenes found in unfiltered coffee. Terpenes are oils that are present not only in regular coffee that hasn't been filtered, but also in espresso.


Though studies have demonstrated that caffeine is unlikely to increase a person’s blood cholesterol levels, this does not mean the substance will not have an effect on the body. Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase one’s heart rate as well as his alertness. It can also affect a person’s sleep patterns by making it more difficult for him to fall or stay asleep. Some people may also experience headaches in relation to drinking large amounts of caffeine or when they do not consume as much of it as they usually do.

Besides the fact that there seems to be no connection between caffeine and cholesterol, most scientists agree that caffeine is usually not harmful for the body. If a person is of basic good health, consuming caffeine in moderation will usually not prove harmful. Consuming excessive amounts of caffeine may, however, cause health problems.

An energy drink containing caffeine.
An energy drink containing caffeine.

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Discussion Comments


With increased coffee/creamer consumption to three to four cups a day for about four months, it surprised me that my cholesterol levels were highly elevated. I was surprised because for the same four months, my diet and exercise program was considered healthy. Based on this, I am currently drinking tea and water to see if there will be an improvement in my next check-up. Praying to God and working on making healthier choices.


I asked my doctor about caffeine and cholesterol and he said that in moderation, it should not be a problem. I've been having a latte every morning for the past six months and my good and bad cholesterol remain the same. Maybe it raises cholesterol for people who drink coffee throughout the day?


@alisha-- I think you missed one point. It's not the caffeine in coffee that affects cholesterol, it's the terpenes. The idea behind fat in cream raising cholesterol and the terpenes in coffee raising cholesterol is the same. So technically, coffee can raise choelsterol.


I don't think that coffee itself can increase cholesterol. If that was the case, all coffee drinkers would eventually develop high cholesterol and those with high cholesterol could reduce it by cutting out coffee.

The only connection that I can see between coffee and cholesterol is that the creamers added to coffee could increase bad cholesterol because of their fat content. As far as I know, dairy products with a lot of fat, especially cream, are not allowed or are limited in a low cholesterol diet. So if someone has three or four cups of coffee with lots of half-and-half everyday, I'm sure it will have a bad impact on their cholesterol levels.

Does anyone else have an opinion on this?

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