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Green Coffee for Weight Loss: Fact, Fiction or Fad?

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Can Green Coffee Help You Lose Weight?

Whether you are a coffee buff or a fitness freak, green coffee must have caught your attention. Manufacturers claim it can reduce fat naturally, with no special diet or exercise and has no side effects! Does it sound like a miracle drug but also rings some alarm bells? Read on to know if it can really deliver.

Green tea is often touted as the answer to good health. And now, it’s green coffee’s turn! Have you been hearing about how green coffee can help you reduce weight? Advertisements claim green coffee can burn fat naturally and lists a number of benefits with “no side effects.” If you are tempted to try it out but are a bit wary, look no further. We bring you the facts so you can decide for yourself.

What Is Green Coffee?

Green coffee is just like regular coffee, except that the beans are not roasted. The magic ingredient in green coffee is chlorogenic acid. Some evidence points to its ability to tackle a host of diseases like high blood pressure, obesity, Alzheimer’s and Type 2 diabetes. Regular coffee, due to the roasting process, loses much of this magic ingredient. Green coffee is therefore marketed as a healthy option that not only gives your daily dose of caffeine but also cuts the fat and your risk of many health conditions.1

Studies in animals show that chlorogenic acid counteracts obesity by reducing the absorption of glucose in the intestine by 80 percent.2 Another study, which observed the effectiveness of chlorogenic acid on body fat, found that it lowered triglyceride and cholesterol concentrations as well. 3

Does Green Coffee Really Burn Fat?

Green coffee shot to fame in 2012 after Dr. Oz claimed on his show that it is a “magic weight loss cure for every body type.” Dr. Oz’s claims were based on a 22-week study that looked at the efficacy of a commercial extract in preventing obesity in 16 people. This study claimed that green coffee could be an effective and inexpensive method to prevent obesity in people who are already overweight.4 Later it was found that this study was seriously flawed and sponsored by the manufacturers of coffee bean extracts. Two years later, it was retracted.5

This campaign also attracted the attention of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which sued Pure Green Coffee, a Florida-based company for cheating customers with “bogus claims.” They also found that the manufacturers used fake news sites to advertise their products.6

Green coffee continues to be sold under other brand names but without these fraudulent claims.

Scientists have been more cautious in recommending green coffee extract for weight loss. According to one paper that reviewed the effectiveness of green coffee extract on weight loss, the results were promising, but the studies themselves were of poor quality. Three randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled clinical trials that included 142 subjects were analyzed for this paper.7

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database says green coffee might be safe if taken orally in appropriate doses. However, it also points out there is insufficient evidence to rate its effectiveness.8

Be Cautious Of Caffeine

Green coffee contains caffeine, so you must avoid it if you have been advised to stay off caffeine. Caffeine can worsen anxiety, bleeding disorders, diabetes, diarrhea, glaucoma, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome and osteoporosis.

Check with your healthcare provider if green coffee can interact with medicines, herbs, and supplements you might be taking. Pregnant and breastfeeding women also should exercise caution and avoid green coffee due to lack of reliable information on safety.9 Chlorogenic acid, in particular, can increase plasma homocysteine levels, which can increase the risk of heart disease.10

That said, a safe way to get your dose of chlorogenic acid is to include fruits such as blueberries, kiwis, plums, cherries, and apples in your diet. Potato skin is also a great source of this compound. Fruits and veggies may not contain much chlorogenic acid when compared with a cup of coffee, but they are inexpensive and definitely safer!11

Finally, the take-home message – enjoy your green coffee if you must, but take the tall claims of green coffee manufacturers with a pinch of salt!

References   [ + ]

1, 8, 9. Green Coffee. MedlinePlus.
2. Welsch, Cathy A., Paul A. Lachance, and Bruce P. Wasserman. “Dietary phenolic compounds: inhibition of Na+-dependent D-glucose uptake in rat intestinal brush border membrane vesicles.” The Journal of nutrition 119, no. 11 (1989): 1698-1704.
3, 7. Onakpoya, Igho, Rohini Terry, and Edzard Ernst. “The use of green coffee extract as a weight loss supplement: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised clinical trials.” Gastroenterology research and practice 2011 (2010).
4. Vinson, Joe, Mysore V. Nagendran, and Bryan R. Burnham. “Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, linear dose, crossover study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a green coffee bean extract in overweight subjects.” Diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity: targets and therapy 5 (2012): 21-27.
5. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, linear dose, crossover study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a green coffee bean extract in overweight subjects [Retraction]. Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy, 7, (2014): 467.
6. FTC Charges Green Coffee Bean Sellers with Deceiving Consumers through Fake News Sites and Bogus Weight Loss Claims. Federal Trade Commission. 2014.
10. Olthof, Margreet R., Peter C. Hollman, Peter L. Zock, and Martijn B. Katan. “Consumption of high doses of chlorogenic acid, present in coffee, or of black tea increases plasma total homocysteine concentrations in humans.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 73, no. 3 (2001): 532-538.
11. Manach, Claudine, Augustin Scalbert, Christine Morand, Christian Rémésy, and Liliana Jiménez. “Polyphenols: food sources and bioavailability.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 79, no. 5 (2004): 727-747.