Caffeine, a bitter alkaloid, occurs naturally in the leaves and seeds of plants such as tea, coffee, guarana, yerba mate, and the kola nut. Caffeine acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system and is one of the most widely researched psychoactive ingredient in the world. A cup of coffee or tea instantly rejuvenates you and boosts your energy levels, taking all the tiredness away. Caffeine content is higher in coffee than tea. Caffeine has numerous health benefits. In fact, research has proved that health benefits of caffeine (taken in moderation) outweigh its disadvantages. It is used as a primary ingredient in many pain relievers, and for the treatment of simple and migraine headaches. Caffeine tablets are used for weight loss, and it is the most widely consumed stimulant among sportsperson. A regular intake of caffeine (by drinking tea and coffee) also prevents the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Effect of Caffeine on Cholesterol Levels
Coffee drinkers all over the world have wondered whether coffee can affect cholesterol levels. The main concern here is whether caffeine can raise the levels. There has been ongoing research in the medical field on this topic. But till date, there has not been any conclusive evidence suggesting that caffeine alone can raise cholesterol level. Another research being carried out claims that caffeine, when used in conjunction with another drug, ephedrine, in helping weight loss in obese individuals, is said to alter cholesterol levels. This combination aids in reducing LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol level, and increases HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol level. LDL is the "bad" cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood can put you at a greater risk of cardiovascular diseases. But the use of caffeine and ephedrine together can have negative health effects too. It can lead to changes in blood pressure and an increased heart rate.
This may come as some respite to coffee lovers. But wait, there's more. Unfiltered coffee, like the Greek and Turkish coffees, or the espresso, contain terpenes. These are oils that are known to raise cholesterol levels in the body. Filtered coffees contain negligible traces of terpenes (specifically cafestol) and is therefore not likely to affect cholesterol levels. So for those who want their cholesterol to be in check, avoid drinking unfiltered coffee.
But as with all substances, excess caffeine can be detrimental to your health. In some individuals, caffeine intake can cause arrhythmia. People who suffer from high blood pressure should avoid caffeine, especially if they are not regularly used to it. Caffeine consumption can elevate the blood pressure in such people. High blood pressure and cholesterol together can have a damaging effect on the heart and kidneys.
Thus, we have seen that caffeine by itself has no effect on cholesterol levels. You can determine for yourself the amount of caffeine intake that's right for you since you have seen the relationship between caffeine and cholesterol. But, still, to maintain good health, avoid too much caffeine in your foods.