#45 Cold-Brew Coffee: Will It Affect Your Cholesterol?

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HOST: Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Dr. Susan Mitchell 

Move over latte. People want cold-brew. It’s trendy and continues to grow in popularity. Is it just a fancy name for traditional iced coffee or how is it different? Does it affect your cholesterol level? What cold-brew is, how it’s made and what you need to know about your cholesterol in this week's podcast.

Hi, I’m registered dietitian nutritionist Dr. Susan Mitchell. You’re listening to the Bariatric Surgery Success podcast episode number 45. Most of my career I’ve worked in some type of media, particularly radio where I did morning drive nutrition spots for over 18 years. That’s what lead me to start podcasting and ultimately to this podcast. I created Bariatric Surgery Success to provide you with life-changing information based on science along with simple strategies and tools to help you be successful in your transformation and your journey. You’re in the right place and I’m glad you’re listening.

I want to give a shout out and say thank you this week to Jo for her comment on Facebook. She said: “Thank you for this podcast, it’s the best one out there xx”.  And I say, you made my day Jo. 

Have you ever taken coffee that’s been sitting around too long and added ice to make your version of iced coffee? Traditional iced coffee is regular coffee brewed hot and then cooled down.  But cold-brew coffee is just the opposite. You use water that is room-temp or chilled and then the coffee steeps slowly over time usually 20-24 hours to get the caffeine and the flavor. Cold-brew needs more ground coffee to get the flavor than traditional brewed coffee. Usually it’s concentrated and then diluted with milk, cream or water. 

When it comes to taste, cold-brew is milder and less acidic since cold water doesn’t dissolve coffee as well as hot water. Traditional coffee can be bitter from the heat which oxidizes the coffee oils and acids. If you have heartburn, you may find cold-brew easier to tolerate. 

So you might be thinking. Is the caffeine content different? This answer isn’t straightforward. According to Coffeechemistry.com cold-brew coffee uses a higher coffee-to-water ratio than traditional coffee. So even though the cold-brew method extracts less caffeine, the higher amount of coffee used in the brew process likely compensates for the difference in solubility. Other factors such as time, temperature and grind size, can also affect the amount of caffeine.

Just a quick review if you’ve had bariatric surgery, the current science, which has been out for a while now, says that caffeinated fluids are as good as other fluids for keeping you hydrated. In fact the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery who makes many recommendations for care after surgery suggests avoiding caffeine for at least the first thirty days after surgery while your body is still sensitive and healing and then checking in with your bariatric dietitian or surgeon if you want to add caffeine back to your diet. If you add caffeinated coffee back to your day, you may want to start with a caffeine-decaf mix. See how the caffeine affects you and then gradually work your way to full throttle on the caffeine. You can also go back and listen to podcast #34: The Buzz on Bariatric Surgery and Caffeine.  

What about your cholesterol level? You may have heard that some coffee brewing methods push cholesterol up. Remember that coffee doesn’t contain cholesterol but might affect how the body produces it. A review of studies looking at coffee consumption and blood lipids or blood fats, particularly cholesterol, found that filtered coffee had very little effect on the cholesterol level. Now consumption of unfiltered coffee can increase both your total cholesterol number and the lousy LDL cholesterol but remember, unfiltered coffee is a different method of brewing. It’s not cold brew. Cold brew typically uses a filter.

Coffee contains substances called diterpenes that are tied to increased cholesterol. The use of paper filters will trap most of these. So if the coffee has been filtered, there’s little effect on the cholesterol level. These diterpenes are strongest in coffee where the grounds have the longest contact with the water during brewing and no filtering. 

So the best thing to do is to use a filter. Here’s a fun spin on cold brew to try if you like more of a latte. Take a cup of cold brew and add a splash of milk, some protein powder and a dash or two of cinnamon and blend like crazy. Remember, wait a good 30 days after surgery before you add back caffeine or coffee, discuss with your medical team and get the go ahead. Add it back slowly. 

Be sure and sign up for the Breaking Down Nutrition newsletter on our website, BreakingDownNutrition.com. Also, I have a new partnership with ProCare Health. You may already know their line of bariatric multivitamins, calcium and protein products. The newsletter is where you’ll find discount coupon codes. Have a question or comment for me? Contact me thru the website or hit reply to my newsletter with your question. 

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