If you are a dedicated coffee drinker (like yours truly), you were probably thrilled the first time you heard coffee might be good for you. One reason? Antioxidant polyphenols abundant in coffee – chlorogenic acids (CGA) have many rumored (and some well-studied) health benefits. Is your curiosity piqued? In this post, I'll zoom into this delightful topic and take a look at the whys and the whats of CGA – grab a cup and let's dive in.
What is Chlorogenic Acid?Chlorogenic acid is a phenolic acid found in coffee. It's absorbed in the body through the intestines after consuming it in coffee or via several other sources. The CGA family is fascinating because they appear to have significant biological activity. For starters, here are a few things we believe CGAs can do:
- Regulate glucose and gut microbiota in the body
- Decrease the risk of heart disease
- Diminish the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- (Appropriately for National Cholesterol month!) reduce hypercholesterolemia and help reverse nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
Primary Sources of Chlorogenic AcidChlorogenic acid isn't only found in coffee – although coffee weighs in with the highest concentrations, especially in green coffee. You will also find it in many other herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Some minor sources include (but are not limited to!):
- Tobacco leaves
- Siberian Ginseng
Health Effects of Chlorogenic AcidAs mentioned, chlorogenic acid's most famous effect is to help the body with glucose absorption and gut regulation. However, the effects of chlorogenic acid are vast – and wide-reaching. Let's explore just a few of the exciting biological effects of CGA.
Reduces AnxietyTests have shown that CGA helps to lessen anxiety responses, seeming to confirm its anxiolytic effects. It seems to work its magic through protecting against oxygenation, as well as activating benzodiazepine receptors.
AntihypertensiveChlorogenic acid has antihypertensive properties – it can reduce high blood pressure. That's a pretty useful counter to caffeine's acute stimulant effect. On its own, it's a promising micro-nutrient that might reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular conditions such as heart disease. Of course, you'll want to wait for more science on this before extrapolating too far – it's promising, but we certainly deserve more research.
CGA is Anti-inflammatoryThe substance helps reduce inflammation in the body, which minimizes the risk of developing (or ameliorates) a myriad of health problems, including autoimmune diseases, arthritis, and diabetes.
Improves Mood and CognitionStudies show that caffeinated coffee with sufficient CGA boosts your mood and amps up your cognitive processes. And it's not just the caffeine – decaffeinated coffee also enhanced these factors, though to a lesser degree.
May Help With Weight LossAs you probably expect – if you are trying to lose weight, drinking coffee may help. Beyond the stimulant effect of caffeine, chlorogenic acid has anti-obesity properties all of its own. Used for a long enough time, the compounding effect of consistent CGA and caffeine intake can help you lose weight – and keep it off.
DNA Protective EffectAs mentioned, CGA is an antioxidant, which means it fights free radicals and slows oxidative stress in the body. To that end, chlorogenic acid can help reduce the effects of aging. It can help the skin appear younger and might stave off age-related conditions such as dementia. That's right – CGA has neuroprotective effects.
Anti-cancer EffectsYou always need to be careful with promising compounds and cancer – but keep your fingers crossed, CGA's DNA protective properties might yet bear fruit here as well. Some theories suggest CGA can reduce the risk of getting cancer by lessening the chance of DNA cell mutations, possibly preventing tumor development.
Side Effects of Chlorogenic AcidAs the old yarn goes – if it doesn't have side effects, it can't work. (A great line to keep in your back pocket!) While it may have numerous benefits in moderation – consuming too much chlorogenic acid can cause problems. Most prominently, the Gastroenterology field is still debating the digestive risks. However, many drinkers claim coffee with excess chlorogenic acids can trigger acid reflux or (worse) gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Like caffeine, CGA reduces the risk of heart disease but can also increase heart rate if over-consumed. Other side effects to watch out for include:
- Indigestion or gastric reflux