DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Your gender and how you brew your coffee may play a role in how it impacts your cholesterol, research shows.

“We’ve been trying to understand this relationship between coffee and cholesterol and cardiovascular disease risk for a long time,” Dr. Michelle Kelsey said, a cardiology fellow with Duke Health.

A new study published in the Journal Open finds three to five cups of espresso a day was linked to high cholesterol, especially among men.  

When it comes to filtered coffee, researchers in Norway and Sweden found women who drank six or more cups a day were shown to have higher cholesterol levels, but not men.

“Coffee contains these compounds called diterpenes which are basically oil lipid compounds, and we think that that is what is causing increased cholesterol from coffee,” Kelsey said.

Different types of coffee can have a different amount of these oils.

“Boiled coffee, plunger coffee, like French press coffee, have the highest amounts and filtered coffee, or instant coffee have some of the lowest amounts and that’s because the oils are removed in the filtration process,” Kelsey said. “We think espresso and espresso-based drinks are somewhere in the middle.”

So, how many cups of coffee a day are safe and is there a healthier brewing method?

Dr. Kelsey said more research needs to be done to figure out the overall health impacts of coffee.
For now, she said to think about the things you’re putting in your coffee.

“Watch the intake of sugary creamers or non-dairy creamers that are high in fat,” Kelsey said. “(You) might try to tackle those things first before I would cut out my coffee entirely.”