People's Pharmacy answers queries about instant coffee and cholesterol, and the side effects of stopping powerful acid-suppressing drugs.

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Q: I’ve read that something in coffee raises cholesterol. I also read that using a filter to prepare the coffee will block this compound. I guess if I drink instant coffee, I’m raising my LDL cholesterol. Is that true?

A: It depends somewhat on how much you drink. The cholesterol-raising compounds in coffee, cafestol and kahweol, are found in very low levels in instant coffee and in filtered coffee (Food and Chemical Toxicology, June 1997).

Most of the early research connecting coffee consumption and elevated cholesterol found that traditional “boiled” coffee made in the Scandinavian or Turkish styles could raise serum cholesterol significantly (New England Journal of Medicine, June 16, 1983).

Twenty years later, however, researchers in Sweden found that filtered coffee could raise serum cholesterol more than previously appreciated (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, September 2003). Other researchers found that five cups of instant coffee daily could result in a small but significant increase in cholesterol (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, October 1995). Drinking a few cups of instant coffee is not likely to change your cholesterol dramatically.

Q: Do you have a diet for helping me survive omeprazole detox?

When I forgot to take the drug two days in a row, I experienced heartburn hell. Earlier, I tried to take myself off the drug, but I could only stand it for a week. Now I can’t skip one day without wanting to die.

A: Stopping powerful acid-suppressing drugs like omeprazole (Prilosec), esomeprazole (Nexium) and lansoprazole (Prevacid) can be tough. In one study, even people who never had heartburn before developed it upon stopping this type of medication (Gastroenterology, July 2009).

A low-carb diet can be helpful. So can remedies like almonds, broccoli, “Digestive Tea,” “Ginger Pickle” and “Persimmon Punch.” We are sending you our new book, “The People’s Pharmacy Quick and Handy Home Remedies.”

Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them c/o King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., 15th floor, New York, NY 10019, or via their website: www.peoplespharmacy.org