There has been a great deal of buzz in recent years over green coffee beans, especially in regards to weight loss.
While they are certainly not a replacement for a healthy diet that includes a variety of nutritious foods and regular exercise, some research shows that they may indeed make a positive contribution to a well-rounded weight loss plan.
Green coffee beans are simply regular coffee beans in their raw, unroasted state. While it is possible to grind and brew green coffee beans, the resulting beverage does not resemble what we know of as coffee at all, and has a bitter taste that many consider to be unpleasant. For this reason, it is usually sold in capsule form.
There are many great, health-conscious reasons to drink roasted, organic coffee. This classic beverage is rich in polyphenol antioxidants, and has been associated with a wide range of benefits.
However, coffee in its raw state has compounds intact that roasting depletes or destroys. One of these antioxidants is chlorogenic acid (CGA). The presence of CGA is one primary factor that sets green coffee apart from its roasted counterpart.
A 2006 study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine tested the effects of green coffee bean extract (abbreviated as GCBE in the study) on male lab mice classified as “mildly obese.” A group of the mice was given GCBE along with their regular diet for a two-week time period.
On the results of the study, the researchers summarized, “caffeine and chlorogenic acid showed a tendency to reduce visceral fat and body weight.” Visceral fat is more commonly known as belly fat. This type of fat is specifically linked to a higher risk of heart disease, hypertension and even some cancers.
Researchers added, “these results suggest that GCBE is possibly effective against weight gain and fat accumulation by inhibition of fat absorption and activation of fat metabolism in the liver. “
These results, linking green coffee beans to weight loss, were underscored by a 2012 human study published in the journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity.
The study tested the effects of a green coffee bean extract on the weight and body mass index (BMI) of 16 overweight adults over a 22 week timespan. The volunteers were divided into groups and given either 1050 milligrams or 700 milligrams of the extract. One additional group received a placebo.
Results of the study showed “significant reductions” in BMI, body weight and body fat percentage of the subjects that had received the green coffee bean extract, as well as a slight decrease in heart rate. The researchers also noted that six of the subjects who were classified as “pre-obese” moved into the normal weight range during the course of the study.
The study authors wrote, “the results are consistent with human and animal studies and a meta-analysis of the efficacy of green coffee extract in weight loss. The results suggest that GCA may be an effective nutraceutical in reducing weight in pre-obese adults, and may be an inexpensive means of preventing obesity in overweight adults.”
There is also evidence linking green coffee bean consumption to reductions in high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. A 2006 study published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Hypertension surveyed 117 men with “mild hypertension.” The men were given either 43, 93 or 185 milligrams of green coffee bean extract per day for 28 days.
Analysis of the results showed that the men in the 93 milligram and 185 milligram groups exhibited “significant improvement” in their blood pressure compared to the placebo, and that the results were most notable at the highest dosage.
The researchers noted, “in the CGA [chlorogenic acid] group, but not the placebo group, blood pressure (systolic and diastolic) decreased significantly during the ingestion period.
There was no difference in body mass index and pulse rate between groups, nor were there any apparent side effects. Thus, CGA from GCE [green coffee extract] is effective in decreasing blood pressure and safe for patients with mild hypertension.”
Green coffee beans are also sometimes associated with aiding in the reduction of symptoms of diabetes, however, no extensive scientific research has been performed to confirm this.
Although, noting its correlation to enhancing weight loss efforts and lowering blood pressure, it is possible that it may provide some aid in diabetes prevention just by these properties alone, as obese individuals are often at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
While green coffee beans have not been found to have any negative health effects in human trials, it is best to consult with a naturopathic practitioner (or your health professional of choice) before using them just to be safe, and to determine the correct amount to add to your healthy lifestyle to aid in your efforts.
As there are still unknowns regarding their effects, it is important to be especially cautious and seek the advice of a professional if you are pregnant or nursing, have a serious health condition, or are considering adding them to the diet of a child or young adult.
A naturopathic practitioner could also advise you in choosing a trustworthy, whole food supplement, as there are many low-quality, and even dangerous, products on the market.
Another way you could try green coffee is to grind the organic, raw beans, brew them, and add the brewed green coffee to smoothies to mask the bitter flavor. While it won’t provide a miracle cure for excess weight in itself, it just might help.
As always, consuming a rainbow of fruits and veggies, healthy fats and proteins, as well as participating in a regular exercise program are foundational. While more research has yet to do be done, the effects of green coffee look promising.
-The Alternative Daily