April 14

The Power of Good

Power of Good Health Monthly Column

The Way Coffee Works
The way coffee works is not completely understood. Including caffeine, coffee contains over 1,000 compounds, and only a few of which that have been studied. It is known that coffee contains antioxidants, making it the greatest source of antioxidants in the American diet.

One of these antioxidants has been of particular interest to scientists who are studying coffee beans: chlorogenic acid. Chlorogenic acid is a type of antioxidant known as a polyphenol. There are over 4000 different polyphenols. It is thought that many of the health benefits delivered by coffee are related to the presence of this plant compound.

Several properties of chlorogenic acid have been distinguished. Perhaps the most important of these is its anti-diabetic effect. You may remember that drinking large amounts of coffee can lower diabetes risks by up to 67 percent. This is because chlorogenic acid reduces blood sugar levels. It also increases insulin sensitivity and decreases the storage of both fat and sugar (carbohydrate). Working with other compounds, possibly including caffeine, chlorogenic acid may lower carbohydrate storage by as much as 35 percent.

Coffee compounds are also anti-inflammatory agents and protect human cells that are rich in lipids, especially the brain cells. This may explain why coffee is so protective against cognitive decline.

A further effect of the coffee polyphenols on our body’s cells is the modification of enzymes that are involved with intracellular signaling. This enhances the cellular communication system. Since signaling facilitates tissue repair, immunity, and homeostasis (the ability of the body to remain stable in performing its functions), this important property may underlie all of coffee’s health benefits.

Don’t like coffee? Don’t want to drink it? Can’t drink it? Don’t worry! Green coffee bean extract is high in chlorogenic acid. It is available at your natural products store and even your local grocery stores.

It is important to note that the disease studies cited are associative, not causal. In other words, these are not controlled studies looking at the effects of coffee drinking on one’s health. People were not instructed to drink or not to drink coffee over decades for researchers to observe the results on diabetes or heart disease or cognitive decline. Rather, in studies where large groups of people reported their coffee drinking patterns, among other lifestyle habits, those patterns were strongly statistically associated with the results you read about here.

Green Coffee Beans = New Jeans?
Recently, Science Daily reported striking evidence that unroasted coffee beans could yield substantial loss of weight in a relatively short amount of time. Generally referred to as “green coffee extract,” the same mechanisms that can protect you from diabetes can help you drop over a pound a week effortlessly. This happens because of the high chlorogenic acid content of green coffee beans. A 400mg dose consumed one-half hour before eating shows a remarkable 24 percent drop in after-meal blood sugar. In addition, this extract also helps inhibit the absorption of calories from starches and sugars. A small study, in which participants took 350mg of green coffee extract three times a day before meals, resulted in an average weight loss of 17.6 pounds in only 12 weeks. This was over ten percent of body weight.

This small study repeats the results of work conducted by Joe Vinson, Ph.D. and fellow colleagues at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. Vinson’s original work was presented at the prestigious American Chemical Society national meeting in 2012. That study lasted for 22 weeks, and it tested the effects of different doses of the extract.

Incredulous, Dr. Oz ran his own two-week study with 100 women. Half of the women took the green coffee extract, while the other half took a placebo. The women on green coffee extract lost two pounds. The women taking the placebo only lost one. All women were asked to keep a food diary. Dr. Oz believed the diary explained the weight loss for the women on placebo.

The important thing to note is that in none of the studies were participants ever placed on any special diet. They were simply told to follow healthy low-fat eating habits, and to continue with their regular exercise routines.

Coffee is roasted to bring forth its unique, robust flavor and aroma. However, roasting breaks down some of the chlorogenic acid content. In contrast, green coffee beans have little aroma, a slightly bitter taste, and far more chlorogenic acid.

Siri Khalsa is the editor of Nutrition News, and she has been writing for the publication for many years. She has the passion and dedication to educate readers on the health benefits on tea and coffee.

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