By one estimate, 3,000,000,000 (yes, Billion) cups of coffee are served every day across the world! How would our collective cardiovascular health improve if that was matcha instead (or any green tea)?
Seriously, with respect to research published recently, the answer with healthy-hearts in mind might bring some extra joy to those who’ve chosen matcha over the cup of joe – especially if you or your family members struggle with cholesterol.
PREFACE: Below we report on findings published this year by an investigative team from University of South Australia; in cooperation with the UK Biobank, the team evaluated for long-term clinical significance that the cholesterol-raising molecule found in coffee beans may have .
Read through for some interesting details OR scroll a bit as we bring full circle why, for many, daily matcha simply continues to make more sense than coffee – especially when the emphasis is long-term heart health:
Why Lots of Coffee May Damage the Heart
The offending compound is thought to be ‘cafestol,’ a type of terpene which naturally occurs in coffee beans. Cafestol is found in the highest levels in unfiltered coffee drinks, and is now regarded to lead to a dose-dependent correlation with elevated lipids in the blood – a concern for those at risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) [1-2].
Specifically, in what’s been dubbed the ‘coffee-cholesterol connection,’ the following lipids are thought to become elevated: LDL-C, HDL-C, total cholesterol, triglycerides, as well as three (3) apolipoproteins which are common biomarkers for cardiovascular health .
“The Coffee Cholesterol Connection”
One of the major reasons for concern behind this study stems from a growing normalization that “there’s no such thing as too much!” when it comes to coffee. The study roughly grouped coffee habits by ‘cups per day’ and found the strongest correlation of increased CVD risk in those consuming 6> cups/daily .
Yes… You May Be able to Have Too Much Coffee!
In fact, this is actually the 2nd recently-published cohort analysis to measure the seemingly insidious impacts of excess coffee drinking on cardiovascular health (disease).
While the former study had more than 300,000 UK participants, the latter measured 500,000 Norwegian participants – the results of which were published last year, similarly concluding that unfiltered coffee poses to increase the test-group’s mortality risks directly from heart disease .
Backstory: Coffee is Surprisingly New as a Daily Go-to
With coffee, there are a lot of unknowns for health. Unlike green tea which has a record of being enjoyed as a daily drink well into BCE, coffee actually is only first explicitly recorded as a beverage in the 1500s; and since then, only in the past few centuries has it taken to be a common social offering.
Generally compared to green tea products (e.g. Japanese matcha), the question of long-term health properties of coffee has not been definitively settled; there is no reasonably conclusive research supporting coffee as an absolute health beverage – although one may choose to conclude differently with green tea.
Matcha vs Coffee for Heart Health
This is perhaps most true now on the topic of heart health, considering an equally substantial cohort analysis (approx 100,000 participants) on Japanese green tea for long-term health:
- Said study was released in 2015, suggesting in stark opposition to the coffee studies, that those who consumed the most reasonable amount of green tea had the least chance of death, particularly including cardiovascular disease mortality .
Long story short, we’re learning that the long-term safety of coffee is hardly as black and white as the Starbucks® on every corner would allude to. So far we have two large studies on coffee which imply that ‘more is not better,’ roughly speaking with the opposite being reported for green tea.
- Is there such a thing as too much matcha? Not in the same way
Solution? How Matcha is Different than Coffee for Cholesterol
One of the most telling comparisons between matcha and coffee, with respect to cardiovascular health and cholesterol, is what the principal findings have been about natural compounds in green tea for an individual’s overall lipid profile [4-8]:
While coffee is under fire for natural levels of the cholesterol-raising cafestol, matcha green tea is on the other side with its high levels of antioxidants being evaluated as potentially supplemental to a cholesterol-monitoring regimen [4-8].
Health Benefits of Coffee? Research is Limited
And that’s just on the topic of cholesterol. A habit of coffee throughout the day may be on the wrong side of other physiological processes which impact heart health, too: elevated glucose, inflammatory cascades, and stress hormone issues are examples we’ve written on [9-10].
- RELATED: Full Matcha & Heart Health Article
The Bottom Line – Coffee or Matcha for the Safety of your Heart?
The jury is still out on what the true cost, or any proven benefits, of a daily coffee habit may be. Nevertheless, cardiovascular disease claims millions of lives every year, and whether you choose matcha (any green tea) over coffee may carry greater consequence to longevity than previously respected.
Many qualified health professionals would agree, that if one had to be recommended over the other – the rationale for tea is simply stronger, based on available information.
Large-scale population studies mentioned above tend to only affirm the finer findings of modern medical research, such as in what ways, respectively, that coffee or green tea may influence processes of stress, inflammation, metabolism, and more.
Upon your own research, you may agree that the health debate between matcha or coffee may not be a debate at all.
 Zhou, Ang, & Hyppönen, Elina. (2021). Habitual coffee intake and plasma lipid profile: Evidence from UK Biobank. Clinical Nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland), Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2021-01-11.
 Tverdal, A., Selmer, R., Cohen, J. M., & Thelle, D. S. (2020). Coffee consumption and mortality from cardiovascular diseases and total mortality: Does the brewing method matter?. European journal of preventive cardiology, 27(18), 1986-1993.
 Saito, E., Inoue, M., Sawada, N., Shimazu, T., Yamaji, T., Iwasaki, M., ... & Akiba, S. (2015). Association of green tea consumption with mortality due to all causes and major causes of death in a Japanese population: the Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study (JPHC Study). Annals of epidemiology, 25(7), 512-518.
 Bursill, Christina A., Mavis Abbey, and Paul D. Roach. "A green tea extract lowers plasma cholesterol by inhibiting cholesterol synthesis and upregulating the LDL receptor in the cholesterol-fed rabbit." Atherosclerosis193.1 (2007): 86-93.
 村松敬一郎, 福與眞弓, and 原征彦. "Effect of green tea catechins on plasma cholesterol level in cholesterol-fed rats." Journal of nutritional science and vitaminology 32.6 (1986): 613-622.
 Lin, Y., Shi, D., Su, B., Wei, J., Găman, M. A., Sedanur Macit, M., ... & Guimaraes, N. S. (2020). The effect of green tea supplementation on obesity: A systematic review and dose–response meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials. Phytotherapy Research
 Gavrieli, A., Yannakoulia, M., Fragopoulou, E., Margaritopoulos, D., Chamberland, J. P., Kaisari, P., ... & Mantzoros, C. S. (2011). Caffeinated coffee does not acutely affect energy intake, appetite, or inflammation but prevents serum cortisol concentrations from falling in healthy men. The Journal of nutrition, 141(4), 703-707.
 Reis, C. E., Dórea, J. G., & da Costa, T. H. (2019). Effects of coffee consumption on glucose metabolism: A systematic review of clinical trials. Journal of traditional and complementary medicine, 9(3), 184-191