This is an often wheeled out statement: that decaf raises cholesterol by 10%

But, where does this supposed fact actually come from?

We did some digging to learn more about the background of this supposed fact and it turns out that it comes from a 2005 Study by a Dr Superko of the Fuqua Heart Centre in Atlanta, Georgia in the USA, which is now part of Piedmont Atlanta Hospital.

The sample size of this entire study was 186 coffee drinkers and the research ran as follows:

1. There were 3 groups of 62 people each and each group was designated into:

  • Those that drank 3-5 cups of decaf coffee every day
  • Those who drank 3-5 cups of caffeinated coffee every day
  • Those who drank no coffee every day
2. They then monitored these coffee drinkers for 8 weeks and analysed the level of triglycerides, HDL, LDL, glucose and insulin.
3. The result announced by Dr Superko was that the levels of triglycerides, LDL, glucose and insulin remained unchanged, but there was an increase in the bad LDL cholesterol.

So, with a cursory look, one would presume that decaf coffee could increase LDL cholesterol in people who drink 3 to 5 cups of decaf coffee a day.

However, there’s a big 'but'...

Looking deeper into the experiment, it turns out that the decaf coffee used was all made from a cheap 100% robusta decaffeinated coffee.

This is important.

The caffeinated coffee drinkers (as in the non-decaf test users) didn’t drink robusta coffee – they were given the superior 100% Arabica coffee only to drink.

Robusta coffee, whether it’s decaffeinated or not,  has a much higher dipertene, or fat content, than does coffee made from the Arabica species, which could cause an increase in cholesterol levels.

So, it's very possible that the study drew the wrong conclusion and this was even admitted to by Dr Superko in a later interview.

So, the lessons about the connection between decaf coffee and cholesterol are:

  • There needs to be much more research on this issue. 186 people is a very small sample size and, of that, only 62 people were drinking decaf robusta, which increased bad LDL cholesterol.
  • Drink only Arabica decaf coffee – Decadent Decaf Coffee Co only roasts 100% Arabica coffee decaffeinated using the Swiss Water Process method of decaffeination.

IMPORTANT: This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. Nothing in the content or products should be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always talk to your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment, including your specific medical needs.

September 28, 2016 — Guy Wilmot


Rock said:

“Robusta coffee, whether it’s decaffeinated or not, has a much higher dipertene, or fat content, than does coffee made from the Arabica species, which could cause an increase in cholesterol levels.”


This says you’re wrong: None of the effects on serum lipids or lipoprotein cholesterol levels was significantly different between Arabica and Robusta oil. –

Lindarea said:

Thnx for a great informative site! I love coffee and tea and use decaf cuz of Breast lumps since about 15 years old- have heard dark roast is best for acids etc and know certain places like coffee bean use Swiss water process in their decaf coffee for lattes and blendeds on the go

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