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Green coffee extract is obtained from ripe coffee beans before they undergo the roasting process. Research continues to point to major health effects of both green coffee extract and its major phenolic compound chlorogenic acid. As is the case with many plant extracts, experimental support is often generated first in animal experiments and then progresses to human studies if results are promising. In the case of green coffee extract, studies in mice first revealed that green coffee extract reduced body weight and body fat, primarily by decreasing absorption of fat as well as increasing fat metabolizing enzymes.
Clinical Studies Show Promising Weight-Loss Results
The mice studies led to several human studies that were recently summarized in a meta-analysis review. The results of this analysis in a total of 162 individuals indicated that compared to a placebo group, the average weight loss was 5 and half pounds greater with use of green tea extract at a daily dose of 200 mg/day.
An even more recent study not included in the meta-analysis provides further evidence in support of an effect on weight loss. Overweight men and women were supplemented with placebo, low dose (700 mg/day), and high dose (1050 mg/day) green coffee extract. Each subject received all three treatments for 6 weeks with a two week washout in between for a total duration of 22 weeks. Subjects gained 0.7 pounds during placebo, but lost 3.4 pounds of body weight during low dose, and 4.5 pounds during high dose green coffee extract treatment. No significant side effects were reported in this study, or in any of the other human trials.
The Key Active Ingredient
Looking a little deeper, the effects of green coffee extract appear to be due largely to the presence of chlorogenic acid, and possibly other polyphenolic compounds. Chlorogenic acid is known to activate a spectrum of antioxidant genes that protect against oxidative stress. Coffee enriched with chlorogenic acid results in a significant decrease in blood pressure and has even been shown to produce decreases in glucose absorption in humans. This latter effect may be due to inhibition of carbohydrate digesting enzymes in the gut. Chlorogenic acid is metabolized to ferulic acid in the liver. Ferulic acid has been shown in independent studies to be an effective treatment for high blood pressure. Ferulic acid also potentiates the action of nitric oxide and improves dilation of blood vessels.
Recent studies have tested whether green coffee extract raises levels of chlorogenic and ferulic acid in people. French researchers studied the pharmacokinetic profile after ingestion of green coffee extract in healthy men and women. Subjects consumed 2 capsules (400 mg) of decaffeinated green coffee extract containing 170 mg of chlorogenic acids. Blood samples were measured sequentially for 8 hours and urine samples collected to estimate bioavailabilty of various compounds in green coffee extract. The total bioavailability varied from person to person from as little as 7.8% to as high as 72% with an average of 33%. Several different chlorogenic acids were detected in blood after ingestion including caffeoylquinic, ferulic, caffeic, and isoferulic acids. The significant increase in ferulic acid is interesting because it has been shown to stimulate nitric oxide bioavailability and have a positive effect on vascular dilation and blood pressure. Thus the major compounds in green coffee extract are highly absorbed and metabolized in humans.
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Chlorogenic acid is naturally present in coffee, but the amount is significantly reduced as part of the roasting process. Nonetheless studies are continually being published demonstrating positive associations between moderate coffee consumption and key health indicators. This may be due to the naturally present chlorogenic acid and/or other bioactive nutrients in coffee.
A more effective method of raising blood levels of chlorogenic acid is to consume capsules of green coffee extract. As is the case with any compound or supplement, the degree of quality offered by manufacturers ranges from poor to premium. ProSource's Green Coffee Bean Extract contains 400mg per dose of green coffee extract with an ultra-potent, standardized dose of 50% chlorogenic acids. The exact dose to maximize health effects likely depends on absorption, which varies considerably from person to person. General recommendations are to consume 400 mg of green coffee extract (at least 45% chlorogenic acid) two to three times per day.
Green coffee bean extract makes an excellent non-stimulant weight-loss option, perfect in synergy with a stimulant thermogenic or on its own for those who are sensitive to stimulants.
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Farah A, Monteiro M, Donangelo CM, Lafay S. Chlorogenic Acids from Green Coffee Extract are Highly Bioavailable in Humans. J Nutr. 2008 Dec;138(12):2309-2315.