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Filtered Coffee May Be Especially Good for Heart Health

Coffee put through a paper filter had enhanced benefits compared to methods like French press or espresso.
By Nicholas Bakalar

Coffee can be a healthful drink. It may be even better for you when brewed with a paper filter.

Norwegian researchers gathered health data on 508,747 men and women 20 to 79 years old and followed them for an average of 20 years. The participants also reported the type and quantity of coffee they drank — filtered through paper or brewed using unfiltered methods like French press or espresso.

Drinking filtered coffee was associated with a 15 percent reduction in the risk of dying prematurely from any cause in both men and women. But rates were lower when the coffee was unfiltered: Men who drank unfiltered coffee had a 4 percent reduction, and women a 9 percent reduction.

Compared with unfiltered coffee, filtered coffee was associated with a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease or stroke. The lowest mortality was among those who drank one to four cups a day. The study, in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, controlled for many other cardiovascular risk factors.

Unfiltered coffee contains much higher concentrations of cholesterol-raising phytochemicals called diterpenes than does filtered coffee, which may explain at least part of the effect.

The lead author, Aage Tverdal, a senior researcher with the Norwegian Department of Public Health, said that the effect on cardiovascular health is modest compared with that of exercise or weight control, but still significant.

“Whatever kind of coffee you drink,” he said, “enjoy your coffee. If it’s convenient, drink filtered coffee, especially if you have high cholesterol.”

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