Green coffee, all about the drink that drives health-conscious people crazy

The emerald colour, the beneficial properties and the so-called slimming effects have prompted great curiosity about green coffee, an infusion that has quickly undermined the popularity of the best known green tea.

Green coffee has been talked about in magazines, cooking and wellness sites and by experts (or pseudo-experts) who have hailed it as the last frontier of weight loss diets. Various health benefits have been attributed to this drink, which is said to have antioxidant, anti-cancer and calorie-restricting properties.

How much of this is true? What are the real effects of green coffee?
To answer this question, let’s take a step backwards in order to understand characteristics, benefits and downsides of today’s trending beverage.

What is green coffee?

Green coffee is unroasted coffee. This is why it is also called raw green coffee.

The best raw green coffee is obtained from the fruit of the Coffea Arabica plant species whose fresh beans have a distinctive green colour which are very bright freshly picked, with a slightly paler hue once dried. Those destined for the production of green coffee instead of being roasted are ground while still raw.

How to make green coffee drink at home? You can find green coffee online; pharmaceuticals and herb shops usually sell green coffee capsule too.

Does green coffee contain caffeine?

The lack of roasting changes the properties of the coffee bean.

First of all, the caffeine. In green coffee beans caffeine is present in lower quantities than it is in roasted coffee, but as it remains bound to the chlorogenic acid molecules, it is absorbed more slowly and remains in circulation for longer in the body. In “black” coffee the caffeine acts within half an hour, waking us up all of a sudden, although the effect disappears within a few hours. In green coffee, however, it is released gradually and remains in the blood longer, prolonging the stimulating effect.

Without “cooking”, the beans remain hard, tough and more difficult to grind with traditional tools. This is why green coffee (or should it be called unroasted coffee?) is produced almost exclusively by pharmaceutical-herbalist companies, with industrial machinery, and not by small artisan companies.

Green coffee: benefits and side effects

The fact that green coffee is beneficial to the body on several fronts has been widely demonstrated by many scientific research studies. This is good news, particularly for those who suffer from diabetes and those who need to keep their blood glucose levels under control. Some of the outstanding positive actions of green coffee include:

blood glucose control
green coffee decreases the amount of sugar absorbed by the intestinal mucosa; thanks to the high percentage of chlorogenic acid it also decreases the formation of glucose in the liver.
antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action
unroasted green coffee delays the oxidation processes 4 times more effectively than green tea: the combined action of chlorogenic acid, omega 3 and omega 6, antioxidant molecules and B-group vitamins neutralises free radicals, counteracts cellular ageing and improves the immune defences.
fat metabolism
caffeine belongs to the group of methylxanthines, substances with an important lipid effect: they dissolve the adipocytes and release the adipose tissue from the fatty acids, which are put back into the circulation and then disposed of.

Furthermore, because green coffee beans do not undergo the roasting process, they retain many more mineral salts, polyphenols and vitamins than roasted coffee. Raw green coffee is also less acidic than espresso and less harmful to the stomach. Thanks to the slow absorption and prolonged release of caffeine, this drink works like a diesel to stimulate brain activity and increase the attention span. It has a slightly bitter and herbaceous flavour, not as strong as espresso and more similar to tea than coffee.

Green coffee for slimming: truth or lie?

There are no miraculous substances in nature capable, alone, of inducing weight loss. Even green coffee, despite its direct lipolytic properties, has little or no effect if not supported by a balanced diet and exercise plan.

The study conducted in 2012 by the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia brought into focus the slimming properties of unroasted coffee: methylxanthines are effectively able to dissolve the fat cells by reducing their size and limit the absorption of fats by putting those released by fatty tissue back into the circulation: to really dispose of these fats, however, they must be metabolised with adequate physical activity, a well-balanced, low-calorie diet and a healthy lifestyle. No supplement alone can miraculously burn off the excess pounds. Drinking a cup of green coffee for breakfast or after meals is good for combating lethargy and facilitating digestion but shouldn’t mislead us into easy illusions about its slimming effects.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has been cautiously ruling on the effects of green coffee and on caffeine in general as a weight loss aid. The data examined would not be indicative enough to demonstrate the correlation between weight loss and chlorogenic acid. The unroasted green coffee infusion is only useful with physical activity and an adequate calorie regime. The hypoglycaemic action of chlorogenic acid would also vary from person to person. There is no guarantee that it will always achieve discernible effects such as weight loss.

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