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Green coffee: Health benefits, weight loss, and side effects

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Green coffee: Health benefits, weight loss, and side effects
  • Green coffee is often marketed as a weight loss supplement.
  • While some research has indicated that green coffee may help with weight loss, experts say many of these studies are flawed and the evidence is not conclusive. 
  • Consult your healthcare professional before adding green coffee to your diet, as it is high in caffeine. 
  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.

Green coffee beans are the same type of beans that you use to make coffee each morning. The difference is that the beans you use are brown because they’ve been roasted, whereas green coffee beans are raw beans that have not been roasted.

Green coffee is marketed as a weight loss supplement that can help you burn fat fast, without any diet or exercise. However, while there is some preliminary evidence that it could potentially help with weight loss and blood pressure, some studies have been found to be flawed and further research is required to establish its benefits. People also take green coffee for other conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and bacterial infections, although there isn’t much evidence that it helps. 

Here’s what you need to know about green coffee and its benefits and side effects. 

What is green coffee made of? 

Green coffee is sold as a beverage or as a supplement. A cup of green coffee looks and tastes similar to a green tea drink. The supplement is typically a pill containing a concentrated green coffee extract.

Green coffee contains polyphenol compounds known as chlorogenic acids, which are plant-based micronutrients. The roasting process can reduce these compounds, so regular coffee doesn’t have as much chlorogenic acid as green coffee. 

Like regular coffee, green coffee also contains caffeine. Green coffee extracts can contain up to 17% caffeine. The amount of caffeine you get would vary depending on the brand, method of preparation, and amount consumed.

Does green coffee have health benefits?

“Green coffee is thought to have health benefits due to the high amount of chlorogenic acids, which act as antioxidants,” says Rebecca Tonnessen, RDN, at the Hospital for Special Surgery’s Department of Food & Nutrition Services. 

However, any benefits still have to be conclusively proven by science; while there has been some research investigating the benefits of green coffee, it is still preliminary. “Many studies done on green coffee have been conducted on animals or have a very small sample size,” says Tonnessen. 

For instance, a small 2018 study with around 40 participants diagnosed with metabolic syndrome found that green coffee extract combined with a balanced diet helped participants lose weight. The participants also saw improvements in their blood pressure as well as some markers of diabetes, like fasting blood sugar, and insulin resistance. The participants took 400 milligrams of green coffee extract twice a day for four weeks. 

According to the United States National Library of Medicine, the evidence from studies investigating the impact of green coffee on obesity and blood pressure is still inconclusive. There also isn’t sufficient evidence showing that green coffee can benefit diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, or other health conditions.

What are some side effects of green coffee?

“Green coffee as a drink can be safely taken as long as your daily caffeine intake does not exceed 400 milligrams,” says Tonnessen. If consumed in larger quantities, caffeine can cause side effects like:

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Diuresis
  • Vomiting
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Irregular heartbeats, i.e., arrhythmias

Caffeine — whether from green or black coffee — is also not recommended for people who have certain health conditions. For instance, people who have heart problems may be advised to avoid caffeine as it can cause the heart to start pounding harder or beating erratically. 

People who experience anxiety and insomnia may also find that caffeine exacerbates their symptoms. 

If you’re on any medication, you should consult your healthcare provider before you take caffeine supplements. Caffeine-free green coffee capsules are on the market, but you should still take caution when using them. Consult your healthcare professional first before taking them. 

“Drinking green coffee in liquid form is fine if you prefer green coffee to regular coffee. Consult with your healthcare practitioner regarding green coffee supplements. Caution should be taken with green coffee supplements due to their caffeine content and potential to interact with other medications,” says Tonnessen.

Insider’s takeaway

There are countless supplements that are marketed as miraculous weight loss remedies, green coffee among them. While preliminary research on green coffee supplements has shown promise, its benefits have yet to be established with conclusive evidence. In fact, green coffee supplements have come under scrutiny for deceptive marketing practices and fraudulent weight loss claims. Therefore, a cautionary approach is recommended when it comes to the supplements, although drinking moderate amounts of green coffee is considered safe for most people.

“Green coffee can add variety and flavor to your morning routine and may provide some additional benefits over coffee. It may be more of a trend; however if you prefer green coffee over regular coffee, tea, or matcha, there’s no harm in drinking it,” says Tonnessen.

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