A Cook's Diary

Green coffee and weight loss

What gives coffee its rich flavor and deep color? It’s the roasting, right? Without roasting the beans, coffee is not coffee as we know it. Without roasting the beans, they stay green and make a bitter brew. The news, however, is that the bitter brew from unroasted coffee beans may be the key to inexpensive and “safe” weight loss. Who says?

Okay, a study was conducted with 16 overweight young adults as subjects. The result: “Without changing their diet or exercise, study subjects lost roughly 10.5 percent — an average of 17 pounds – in overall body weight. No harmful side effects were noted, according to the study presented today at the American Chemical Society national meeting in San Diego.”

Without changing their diet or exercise — wow, imagine that. That’s effortless weight loss. No need to give up those bad-for-the-diet food and no need to spend hours at the gym or the track everyday. Miraculous, isn’t it? What can be more perfect? Makes exercise buffs with six-pack abs who say “No pain, no gain” look stupid.

Well, before getting too excited, note this: “The trial was conducted in India and paid for by Applied Food Sciences Inc. of Austin, Tex., a manufacturer of green coffee bean extract.” Ergo, caveat lector and caveat emptor. You’ve been warned. But if the subject still interests you, read on.

Joe Vinson, the chemist who conducted the trial “identified polyphenols and chlorogenic acid as the agents that appear to promote weight loss.”

To understand the quoted part better: “Polyphenols are one family of plant compounds that are abundant in coffee as well as red wine, fruits and fruit juices, tea, vegetables, chocolate and legumes… Coffee contains a type of polyphenol called chlorogenic acids.” These chlorogenic acids are present in green unroasted coffee beans but not in roasted coffee beans because heating destroys the acids. In a 2006 article from Discovery Channel, this was explained by Japanese scientist Hiroshi Shimoda.

“Chlorogenic acid is stable and normal at room temperature, but it is unstable at high temperatures,” Shimoda explained. “Normally, coffee beans are roasted at a temperature of around 240 to 250° Celsius (464-482 degrees Fahrenheit). Roasting leads to decomposition of chlorogenic acid and forms brown aromatic Maillard reactants.”

So, no matter how many espressos or cappuccinos you drink everyday, you’ll get no slimming effect from the coffee — you’ll just ingest all the caffeine and too much can lead to insomnia or worse.

If the fact that the pilot study on green coffee and weight loss was funded by a manufacturer of green coffee bean extract does not bother you and you’re still interested in trying green coffee to lose weight, note that you don’t have to brew green coffee beans. “Green coffee” is sold in sachets just like green tea. Just Google “green coffee.”

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