Green coffee is a term that refers to raw, unroasted coffee beans. Proponents claim that green coffee (or green coffee extract) can offer a variety of health benefits. In addition, green coffee is often touted as a natural weight loss aid.
Green coffee contains chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant substance that breaks down when coffee beans are roasted. Some research suggests that chlorogenic acid may be responsible for the health effects of consuming green coffee.
Since coffee’s distinctive aroma and the flavor is developed during the roasting process, green coffee beans tend to lack aroma and bear a slightly bitter flavor.
In alternative medicine, green coffee is sometimes recommended for the following health problems:
- Colorectal cancer
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Metabolic syndrome
- Parkinson’s disease
Green coffee is also said, in alternative medicine, to promote weight loss, reduce inflammation, and slow the aging process.
Although research on the health effects of green coffee is limited, there’s some evidence that green coffee may offer certain health benefits. Here’s a look at some key findings from the available studies on green coffee:
1) Weight Loss
Green coffee extract may be somewhat beneficial to those trying to lose weight,
For the review, investigators focused on the available clinical trials testing green coffee extract’s efficacy as a weight loss supplement.
Looking at data from the three clinical trials that met their criteria, the investigators found that green coffee extract was significantly more effective than placebo in lowering participants’ body weight.
However, the authors caution that most of the reviewed studies were of poor quality and that more research is needed before green coffee extract can be recommended for weight loss.
In preliminary research on animals (including a 2006 study from BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine), scientists have demonstrated that green coffee extract may protect against weight gain by fighting fat absorption and promoting the liver’s metabolism of fat.
2) Blood Pressure
Green coffee may benefit people with slightly elevated blood pressure, a 2005 study from Hypertension Research suggests. For the study, 117 men with mild hypertension (high blood pressure) received either a placebo or green coffee extract every day for 28 days. By the study’s end, those given green coffee showed a significantly greater decrease in blood pressure compared to members of the placebo group.
3) Alzheimer’s Disease
Animal-based research indicates that green coffee extract could possibly play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. In a 2012 study from Nutritional Neuroscience, tests on mice revealed that decaffeinated green coffee extract helped protect against impaired energy metabolism in the brain (a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease).
In addition, the study found that green coffee extract helped fight insulin resistance.
There’s some concern that long-term or regular consumption of green coffee may increase levels of homocysteine (an amino acid linked to heart disease when it occurs at elevated levels). Additionally, green coffee may interfere with blood sugar control. Given these health concerns, it’s important to seek medical advice prior to consuming green coffee.
It should also be noted that little is known about the safety of long-term or regular consumption of supplements containing green coffee extract.
It’s important to keep in mind that supplements haven’t been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated.
In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.
Where to Find It
Green coffee can be found in many natural-foods stores and in some grocery stores. It’s also widely available online. In addition, the green coffee extract is sold in supplement form online and in many stores specializing in dietary supplements.
Using Green Coffee for Health
Due to the limited research, it’s too soon to recommend green coffee for any condition. If you’re considering the use of green coffee in the treatment of a chronic condition, make sure to consult your physician. It’s important to note that self-treating a chronic condition with green coffee and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.