Most of us, in fact 90 percents of adult Americans, love our morning cup of coffee for its flavor: robust or mellow, strong or light, potent or decaffeinated, pure or with hazelnut, vanilla, chocolate or maca.
We have our special coffee makers, favorite ritual for making a perfect cup, preferred coffee shops and that special coffee cup. But, there is more to coffee than great flavor: coffee beans are rich in a number of active compounds: alkaloids, amino acids, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, phenols and many others.
They all affect our body in various ways. The best known, and most potent, are caffeine and chlorogenic acid. While caffeine is present in both green and roasted coffee beans and its content is not affected by the maturity of the beans or the temperature of roasting, about 70 percent of chlorogenic acid is lost during roasting.
Addicted to caffeine
We could say that we are addicted to coffee, and there is a good reason for that: caffeine. Caffeine is the dominant alkaloid in both green and roasted coffee.
This bitter xanthine alkaloid is a central nervous system stimulant, and we happily use it for its power. This powerful, but legal, psychotropic drug is what helps boost our alertness when we are tired, gives us a jolt of energy and keeps us awake long after we could without caffeine.
Caffeine is toxic in doses over one gram, but most people do not go over 500 mg, whether from a cup of coffee or a caffeine-rich supplement.
Caffeine is used to improve athletic performance and endurance, but it might affect coordination in large doses.
In some people, caffeine causes insomnia, but in most it is well tolerated.
Taking more than 250 mg of caffeine daily can cause dependency or addiction, with symptoms such as heart palpitations, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, insomnia and headaches.
Caffeine has been extensively researched and the results show that regular consumption of coffee with caffeine generally increase longevity, and may help prevent a number of conditions including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, lower risk of type 2 diabetes and gallstones.
Caffeine is not only central nervous system stimulant, but stimulates our metabolism as well. This is the reason why large doses of caffeine are often present in weight loss supplements.
Green, antioxidant and good for your figure
Chlorogenic acid is the second most potent and important active compound in coffee, but it is only recently that it attracted more attention from scientists for its effects on our system. Chlorogenic acid belongs to phenolic acids, known antioxidants.
Antioxidants destroy free radicals, compounds created when we break down food. Free radicals can damage cell walls and can cause a range of diseases.
Chlorogenic acid is more powerful antioxidant than vitamin c, and its large percentage in green coffee beans (Arabica coffee contains 40 mg of chlorogenic acid per one gram of green coffee) means that green coffee beans are an inexpensive source of antioxidants.
A number of studies found that chlorogenic acid slows down the release of glucose into our blood stream. Less sugar in the bloodstream means less accumulation of fat. This makes chlorogenic acid an affordable and safe tool in the fight of obesity and a great weight loss supplement.
While all studies conducted so far on the power of chlorogenic acid to help with the weight loss are small, they are encouraging enough to warrant further studies.
Other studies show that chlorogenic acid helps prevent high blood pressure, improves glucose tolerance and reduces levels of cholesterol.
Chlorogenic acid in supplements is sometimes called GCA (green coffee antioxidant). When you see the percentage of GCA in supplements, it refers to the percentage of chlorogenic acid.