Both the popular press and scientific journals are abuzz with the wonders of coffee, perhaps more specifically some of the compounds contained within coffee, known collectively as chlorogenic acids. Dr. Oz and Oprah are both vocal proponents of the ‘miracle weight loss cure’.
Coffee vs. chlorogenic acid supplements
Before you increase your coffee consumption in the interests of your health, it is worth noting two points: caffeine has a detrimental effect on insulin sensitivity and most of the chlorogenic acid in coffee is destroyed during the roasting process and a compound produced during the roasting process, called hydroxyhydroquinone or HHQ, can inhibit the actions of what little chlorogenic acid is left, in vivo.
Coffee contains thousands of chemical compounds. Research to date has focused on just a handful. The chemicals in coffee do not act independently within the body, they interact with each other in innumerable different ways, most of which we are yet to discover. This may mean that all of the compounds in coffee work better for weight loss and glucose metabolism than just isolating certain compounds out, or the reverse may be true.
Caffeine is known to increase the metabolism of humans as well as the rate at which fat is burned in normal weight individuals. In lean people, it increases thermogenesis by around 7.5 %, in obese individuals by around 5 %. It increases mood and mental alertness, but has also been strongly linked to an increased risk of acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), particularly in people who have a reduced ability to metabolise it, which results in the caffeine floating around the body for longer, exerting its effects for longer.For adults consuming moderate amounts of coffee (3-4 cups per day providing 300-400 mg per day of caffeine), there is little evidence of health risks and some evidence of health benefits.
It has been well established through epidemiological (population) studies and animal studies that moderate coffee consumption is associated with a reduction in body mass and fat mass as well as a reduced risk of developing type II diabetes through an improvement in glucose tolerance. It appears that the anti-diabetic effect of chlorogenic acid is greater than the pro-diabetic effect of caffeine when consumed in the ratios and amounts found in typical coffee beverages.It is also possible, however, that the effect is due to an improvement in glucose tolerance (from the chlorogenic acid) which results in less insulin being produced, resulting in less hunger being experienced leading to less food being consumed and less glucose being stored as fat as a result of the action of insulin. Lower insulin levels result in less glucose being stored as fat.
It is estimated that an ‘average’ coffee drinker probably consumes around 500 – 1000 mg of chlorogenic acid per day with one litre of ”coffee” providing between 500 and 800 mg of chlorogenic acid and that this is sufficient to provide a long-term preventative effect against the development of diabetes.
There is, however, a huge variability in the amount of chlorogenic acid in a cup of coffee depending upon factors such as the type of coffee bean used, the quality of the bean, the extraction method and the volume.
For coffee afficionados
During roasting, the beans are heated to 200-250 °C, and the roasting time can range from 45 seconds to 25 minutes, the optimum time being between 1.5 and 6 minutes, depending upon the degree of roasting required (light, medium, or dark).
During the roasting process, complex chemical changes take place in the coffee beans, many as a result of the Maillard or browning reaction. Some antioxidants increase at light to medium roasting, whilst the amount of chlorogenic acid decreases. Light roasting results in around a 19% reduction in the amount of chlorogenic acid, whilst medium roasting results in around a 45% decrease compared to the amount found in unroasted green coffee beans.
What is the healthiest coffee?
In summary, if you are sufficiently entranced by your coffee to buy it from a boutique provider where you can select these options, the better option is for a 100% arabica, unwashed bean roasted at a high temperature for a short amount of time. This will give you the best chlorogenic acid to caffeine ratio available from the various processing methods. An even better option would be if you can obtain this coffee in a decaffeinated version using the Swiss-water decaffeination method, which does not involve the use of harmful solvents to remove the caffeine.
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This article was originally published at My PCOS Info – Natural Treatments Chlorogenic Acid. Further references and links to the studies mentioned can be found there.
(C) Copyright 2012 Anne Seccombe. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without the express permission of the author. All rights reserved.