We are used to drinking coffee made from roasted beans, however, the drink originally consisted of an infusion made from the raw, green beans and is still consumed in this form in a few areas. Recently, there has been a great deal of interest in the health benefits of pure green coffee bean extract, which is made from the raw material without roasting. One clinical study concluded that it promotes weight loss without the need for a change in eating or exercise habits. It is also thought to possess antioxidant properties.
Traditional coffee is sometimes used to help with weight loss, but the effect seems to be due to caffeine, a stimulant that temporarily raises energy and mental activity levels. Unfortunately, caffeine can produce unpleasant side effects, such as nervousness, irritability and headaches. It can also produce withdrawal symptoms when the intake is reduced or stopped. Green coffee extract contains far less caffeine and its effects seem to be due to an entirely different substance.
Green coffee contains a substance known as chlorogenic acid. The “chloro” part of the name has nothing to do with chlorine, but comes from the green color produced when it reacts with some other chemicals. Chlorogenic acid is decomposed by high temperatures, which means that it is not present in roasted beans. Thus, traditional coffee will not produce the same beneficial effects.
The strong antioxidant properties of chlorogenic acid are well documented. Antioxidants help to suppress oxidation reactions, which, when they take place in the body, can produce harmful free radicals. These are implicated in the aging process and their interactions with DNA can cause cells to become cancerous. Thus chlorogenic acid may help to counteract the effects of aging and prevent the development of cancer.
It is, however, the use of the extract as a slimming aid that has attracted most attention. In one study, carried out over a period of 22 weeks, a group of volunteers lost an average of 17 pounds. Another group, given a placebo, showed no overall weight loss. In both cases, the participants in the study were instructed to follow their normal diet and exercise patterns.
So how does it work? It seems that chlorogenic acid slows down the rate at which glucose is released from the food we eat. Glucose is a simple sugar that is produced by the breakdown of more complex carbohydrate molecules. It provides the body with energy, but when energy requirements are low it is converted to fat. In other words, carbohydrate intake needs to be balanced by exercise to use up the glucose before it turns to fat. Chlorogenic acid makes this easier by reducing the rate at which glucose is produced.
This may not be the only benefit associated with chlorogenic acid. It seems to help maintain healthy levels of blood sugar. It also appears to increase the metabolic rate of the liver, allowing it to break down fats more quickly.
Pure green coffee bean extract is widely available in capsule form. The capsules contain the pure extract, produced by extracting the raw beans and soaking them. The production process preserves the essential compounds that are destroyed by roasting.