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J R Soc Med. 1996 Nov;89(11):618-23.

The cholesterol-raising factor from coffee beans.

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Wageningen Agricultural University, Department of Human Nutrition, Bomenweg, The Netherlands.


Coffee beans and some types of coffee brew-not the regular types of coffee prepared with a paper filter or with soluble coffee granules-contain the diterpenes cafestol and kahweol. Cafestol and kahweol raise the serum concentration of cholesterol and triglycerides in humans, and they also appear mildly to affect the integrity of liver cells. Both effects are transient after withdrawal of the diterpenes, and it is as yet unsure whether these effects are associated. Patients at increased risk of heart disease who drink large amounts of coffee should be advised to select brews low in diterpenes.

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