I love coffee.
So, I was overjoyed when the New England Journal of Medicine published the largest study associating coffee with protective health benefits. The researchers doubted coffee. In fact, their hypothesis was that coffee would be harmful. I am thrilled to report that their hypothesis was incorrect.
In fact, coffee was linked to with less death, less cardiovascular disease, less respiratory disease, less diabetes, less infections and even less death by accidents. The consequence of this didn’t rely on caffeine as decaf demonstrated equivalent benefits. This makes sense because any of the great things about coffee would be from protective micronutrients in the coffee and not the caffeine. So, I am equally joyed to mention that coffee may help with obesity related diseases. Albeit this is a study in mice and thus we cannot get too excited just yet.
A study from the journal Pharmaceutical Research showed that injecting mice with chlorogenic acid (CGA) helped prevent insulin resistance and accumulation of fat in the livers of mice fed a high fat diet. Chlorogenic acid is component in coffee that is a major bioactive compound with robust antioxidant properties. CGA is also abundant in fruits for example apples, pears, tomatoes, and blueberries in addition to vegetables.
Although this study did not show improvements in obesity in mice, an earlier study from Food and Chemical Toxicology have shown advantages of CGA. In this study, obese mice were fed a high fat diet and given CGA. Chlorogenic acid significantly lowered body weight, visceral fat mass and plasma leptin and insulin levels in comparison to the high-fat control group. But again, this is mice and not men (or women). But wait . . .
A study of the effects of CGA on humans does exist.
Researchers enriched instant coffee with chlorogenic acid and studied them for 3 months. When compared to a control group consuming normal instant coffee, the enriched CGA group lost more bodyweight and fat mass. The results were significant. The CGA group lost 5.7 kg (12 lb) in the 12 weeks and the normal instant coffee group lost only 1.7 kg (3-4 lb). The authors discussed that CGA is known to block liver releasing glucose into the blood stream. In this case, fat is burned for energy in it’s place, which may account for the fat loss seen in the individuals. CGA is also known to inhibit absorption of glucose in the gut which may also lead to weight reduction.
A study from the American Journal of Nutrition surveyed men and women over 12 years and found a connection for less weight gain in those who drank coffee. This study cannot prove cause and effect (that coffee directly caused the improved weight), but suggests the chance that coffee consumption protects against weight gain to a small degree. Other studies have looked at caffeine intake directly along with ephedra and have found modest short term benefits.
I would not drink coffee at this stage just to slim down and would not recommend caffeine supplements. However, if you love a good cup of coffee or an espresso, be thankful that your habit is likely safe and may be helping to keep you slimmer than you would otherwise be.