Coffee can certainly feel life-giving on a Monday morning, but some coffees might be more life-giving than others. A new long-term study published by the European Society of Cardiology suggests that coffee can actually lengthen your life, but only if you prepare it with a filter.
Over the last two decades, researchers followed a representative sample of the Norwegian population – more than half a million men and women in all – and recorded details of their coffee consumption. They also collected data on other factors that might affect long-term heart health, such as smoking, physical activity, education, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
In the study, drinking filtered coffee notched up a 15% reduced risk of death compared to drinking no coffee at all, and consumers of one to four cups of filtered coffee a day presented the lowest mortality of any group.
“Our study provides strong and convincing evidence of a link between coffee brewing methods, heart attacks, and longevity,” said study author professor Dag S. Thelle, from the University of Gothenburg. “Unfiltered coffee contains substances which increase blood cholesterol. Using a filter removes these and makes heart attacks and premature death less likely.”
The study claims to be the first to look at links between brewing methods and long-term health, and even unfiltered coffee drinking does not come out looking like a dangerous habit. Compared to no coffee, drinking unfiltered coffee only affected the risk of death in men aged 60 and above, who recorded increased cardiovascular mortality.
The data is observational, but Thelle was keen to emphasize the study’s depth and breadth. “The finding that those drinking the filtered beverage did a little better than those not drinking coffee at all could not be explained by any other variable such as age, gender, or lifestyle habits,” he says. “So we think this observation is true.
“For people who know they have high cholesterol levels and want to do something about it,” he continues, “stay away from unfiltered brew, including coffee made with a cafetière. For everyone else, drink your coffee with a clear conscience and go for filtered.”