what is chlorogenic acid

What is Chlorogenic Acid?

It is that time of year again when our thoughts turn to new year resolutions like joining a gym, losing weight and longing for the summer months and that holiday you keep promising yourself. 

A lot of the time we appear also to be worried about our health and immune system in times like these and also the risks of being overweight. Well, if you are a confirmed coffee drinker (like me), you were probably thrilled the first time you heard coffee might be good for you or maybe this is the first time you have been made aware that it can help you in times of stress and also at the gym.

One reason? Antioxidant polyphenols, which are abundant in coffee – otherwise known as chlorogenic acids (CGA). These have many rumoured (and some well-studied) health benefits. 

So what is chlorogenic acid? Has this now piqued your interest? 

So what is Chlorogenic Acid?

Chlorogenic acid is a phenolic acid found in coffee. CGA accounts for the majority of the organic acid concentration in coffee. It is absorbed in the body through the intestines after consuming it in coffee or via several other sources.

CGA’s are produced by the coffee plant to help protect it much like ourselves from oxidative stress.

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
  • Help reduce hypercholesterolemia and help reverse non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Primary Sources of Chlorogenic Acid

Chlorogenic acid is not only found in coffee – Many plants produce CGA’s but none more so than coffee, except for the Ilex plant, from which mate. You will also find it in many other herbs, fruits, and vegetables.

Some minor sources include (but are not limited to!):

  • Tomatoes
  • Apples
  • Artichokes
  • Burdock
  • Carrots

A few other plants which contain CGA in particularly high quantities (although not approaching coffee) include:

  • Sunflowers
  • Honeysuckle
  • Potatoes
  • Ginseng
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes

Health Effects of Chlorogenic Acid

As mentioned, chlorogenic acid’s most famous effect is to help the body with glucose absorption and gut regulation as it slows the movement of sugars into the blood and also promotes the uptake of sugars from the liver therefore reducing the level of glucose in the blood. However, the effects of chlorogenic acid are vast – and wide-reaching.

Reduces Anxiety

Tests 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.

Antihypertensive

Chlorogenic acid has antihypertensive properties – it can reduce high blood pressure.

CGA is Anti-inflammatory

The substance helps reduce inflammation in the body, which minimizes the risk of developing a range of health problems, including autoimmune diseases, arthritis, and diabetes.

Improves Mood and Cognition

Studies show that caffeinated coffee with sufficient CGA boosts your mood and amplifies your cognitive processes. And it is not just the caffeine – decaffeinated coffee also enhanced these factors, though to a lesser degree.

May Help with Weight Loss

As 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 Effect

As 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.

Some theories suggest CGA can reduce the risk of getting cancer by lessening the chance of DNA cell mutations, possibly preventing tumor development. There have been studies on this, but it is still an area that requires further investigation.

Side Effects of Chlorogenic Acid

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:

  • anxiety
  • Jitteriness
  • Indigestion or gastric reflux

Drinking coffee – in general – ramps up your stress hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine. So keep a close eye on your body, especially if starting a new regime.

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Chlorogenic Acid and Coffee Brewing

As it has the highest content of CGA, coffee is an excellent source of the acid. However, it is not a constant. Many factors affect your cup’s CGA content—everything including your roast, brew, sweetener, and even your beans’ growing conditions.

Coffee Types

As you know, there are many ways to roast coffee, all of which hold onto chlorogenic acid differently through the brewing process. The main roasts are green, light, medium, and dark roast.

The concentration of CGA is highest in green coffee – coffee made with unroasted beans. Most CGA loss comes in the heating process.

The location and altitudes where the coffee grows also impact the eventual flavour and the CGA concentration.

The general rule of thumb is, the lighter the roast, AND the higher the altitude the beans are cultivated the more CGA you can expect.

Effects and Interaction with Caffeine

CGA and caffeine go hand in hand. The lighter the roast, the greater amount of caffeine proportionally will be in the coffee. The same can be said for CGA content; just as you would want a lighter (or medium roast for higher caffeine content, you will also generally want to match for higher CGA content.

However, caffeine does not impact CGA content – these two compounds generally coexist and happen to correlate with the same beans and roasts.

As a final word.

Interactions of Chlorogenic Acid

Studies show that milk proteins may be an excellent binding compound, reducing the amount of unbound CGA in the cup. If the acidity in the coffee bothers you, dairy actually can neutralize some of it – it is not just a placebo effect. However, if you are looking for the full dose of CGA’s in a cup, it is best to space it out from dairy and drink it black.

Now you can choose your Woodhouse Coffee with confidence.