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Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014
Lifestyle Stories

Choose coffee over coffee extract


Published:

Q: What’s so special about green coffee extract? If coffee is so good why can’t we just drink more of it, instead of paying extra for capsules or drinks?

Answer: Medical evidence agrees: Just drink your coffee!

The reasoning behind the green coffee extract industry is that one of the compounds in coffee that might have health benefits is something called chlorogenic acid. It is a polyphenol, one of the groups of plant compounds that are antioxidants.

Roasting green coffee beans to develop what we consider the characteristic flavor destroys some of the chlorogenic acid. Dark roasts would destroy even more. So, extracting it from the green coffee beans gives a higher concentration. That’s true.

But past that, there is more theory and speculation than good, solid evidence. There are lots of claims about the extracts lowering blood sugar, reducing fat accumulation, reducing inflammation, etc. Unfortunately, most of the studies have been done on lab animals, or in test tubes, or by computer. The few that have used real people have been very small and so poorly designed that they really don’t show any effect at all.

Another part of the problem is that the extracts on the market are all different. There’s no way to tell exactly how much chlorogenic acid, or other chemicals from the beans, are in them. And there is no way to tell how much you need of any of them to have the desired effect. Plus, some of the things in the extracts do interact with common medications. They do have side effects.

If you like coffee, go ahead and drink it. And use the money you saved by not buying the extract to buy a better coffee.

Mary A. Keith, a licensed dietitian and health agent at Hillsborough County Extension, can be reached at mkeith@ufl.edu.

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