You've heard of medium roast, dark roast, and espresso grind, but have you heard of green coffee?
Oddly enough, green coffee has little to do with everyone's favorite caffeinated beverage — it's the latest trend in weight loss supplements.
Green coffee is simply unroasted coffee beans. It's hard to imagine coffee beans as anything but the appealing, chocolate brown we're used to seeing, but they start out green.
The largest difference between the roasted and unroasted beans is chlorogenic acid. Roasting coffee beans decreases their concentration of this acid, which some research has indicated might help with weight loss and reduce hypertension.
However, the science behind these claims remains inconclusive. Only a few studies have been done on green coffee extract, and one of the most promising research papers was retracted. The paper, written by researchers at the University of Scranton, claimed that green coffee extract helped subjects lose 16 percent of their body fat. The researchers retracted their statements in October after they admitted they could not verify the data from the study, which was conducted in India.
Dr. Mehmet Oz also got into hot water over green coffee extract. He highlighted the use of green coffee extract as a weight loss supplement several times on his show, even calling green coffee a "miracle pill" that can "burn fat fast." When researchers retracted the University of Scranton paper, however, Oz backed away from his support. Recently, the Federal Trade Commission accused one of the marketers who promoted green coffee extract on the Dr. Oz show with "preying on consumers." The marketer will payout a $9 million dollar settlement.
Though no other studies have gone quite as far in their praise of green coffee, one study indicated that chlorogenic acid can alter the body's absorption and use of glucose, the simple sugar found in fruit. The study's authors indicated that chlorogenic acid could be beneficial in the long run for obese and overweight people, although they did not go so far as it say it aids in weight loss.
The jury is still out on green coffee's effectiveness. As with any new supplement, it is best to consult your doctor before taking green coffee extract.
Photo credit: McKay Savage via Flickr