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Green coffee bean more than a fad

By Hank Schultz , 15-Oct-2012

Green coffee bean extract seems to be the weight management flavor of the moment, but there is solid science behind the ingredient, an expert says, adding that’s why it landed on the Dr. Oz Show recently.

“We’ve been working on this since 2003 in human subjects,” Chris Fields, vice president of scientific affairs for Applied Food Sciences, told NutraIngredients-USA.  “One of the first things we did was a glucose inhibition study and we saw some really interesting things.”

“As we went proceeded through the clinical evolution we realized that a lot of the subjects that were taking the extract for blood glucose management were also having some benefits of weight loss. And the weight loss was specifically from body composition changes and they were actually experiencing some changes in the amount of fat they were storing and metabolizing,” she said.

After getting intrigued about the weight loss benefits, Fields said, the company investigated further, conducting a longer-term, randomized, placebo-controlled cross-over study in which the subjects acted as their own controls, to try to better account for the wide variability in how subjects tend to respond in weight loss study.  The study included placebo, low dose and high dose phases and washout phases between the phases. The study showed an average weight loss of about 17 pounds in 22 weeks.

The main active ingredient, chlorogenic acid, is present in brewed coffee, Fields said.  But as a member of the polyphenol family, it is sensitive to temperature.  The roasting process destroys much of it, and what’s left can end up altered into less bioactive forms, she said. A Brazilian study confirmed the bioavailability of chlorogenic acids when derived from green (unroasted) coffee beans.

Broad array of active acids

The term chlorogenic acid is a bit of a misnomer, Fields said. There are a number of different acid constituents, she said, which function together in an as yet unidentified way to achieve the observered results.  Also unknown is the precise method of action by which these chlorogenic acids affect weight loss and body composition in humans. 

That’s why it’s critical, she said, for formulators to use a high quality green coffee bean extract that includes all of the fractions in order to be able to back up label claims. There are a plethora of me-too products on the market, she said, using inferior extracts.  “They just spike it with the 5-isomer,” Fields said, to give the appearance of greater potency.

CGA, Svetol mentioned by name

The Dr. Oz producers conducted their own investigation of green coffee bean prior to the airing of the green coffee bean segment. A posting on the show’s website that accompanied the video release recommended two green coffee bean ingredients by name, GCA, the brand name of Austin, TX-based Applied Foods’ green coffee bean extract, and Svetol, the extract manufactured by French supplier Naturex.  Oz does not promote specific products, the show’s producers state.  But in this case, the show recommended that consumers look for one of those two names on the label to make sure that what they are taking matches what has been studied.

“Naturex is the only other one who has actually done any work,” Fields said.

Naturex has eight studies connected with their ingredient, the company says, and controls the production from the field, where a specific coffee species is chosen, through the extraction process to the finished ingredient.

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