A new study from Japan says that polyphenols in coffee might help "undo" some of the effects of a high-cholesterol diet.
To study the effect of coffee on cholesterol, researchers . . . well, they made coffee. Actually, they brewed old coffee beans, making coffee, then extracted the polyphenol content.
They then took adult zebrafish and divided them into 3 groups. For the next 14 weeks the fish were fed specific diets. One group got normal fish chow, one group was fed normal fish food to which cholesterol had been added and the third group was fed the chow that had both cholesterol and coffee polyphenols added to it. At the end of the study the fish were sacrificed and examined.
By the end of the experiment, all the fish had gained weight but the weight differences were not statistically significant among the 3 groups. What was significant, however, was the difference in cholesterol between the high-cholesterol fish and the coffee/cholesterol fish. Although the fish who got cholesterol plus coffee polyphenols did not fare quite as well as the fish who got only normal fish chow, they did considerably better than the cholesterol-only fish. Their levels of blood and liver cholesterol were both closer to levels seen in the plain-chow-fish.
The effect of coffee on cholesterol in humans is something that science is only just beginning to understand. Coffee made in certain ways can actually increase levels of "bad", or LDL, cholesterol. And, of course, the caffeine in coffee has long been known to raise blood pressure.
The study was published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism.
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