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Four months ago a retailer of green coffee bean extract gave me a bottle of their product to try. I haven't had time to worry about diet. I haven't paid a lot of attention to diet, actually. But I lost 22 pounds and my lab numbers are better. Here's why.

Truth be told, I am always a little skeptical of anything I see on Dr. Oz. It's not that Dr. Oz doesn't know what he's talking about. But by the time the show gets edited and gaggles on Internet marketers start hawking products as "as recommended by Dr. Oz," I am just not inclined to listen.

But give me your product for free and I'll give it a try. That's what happened four months ago. The owner of the company that puts out a product called Nutraphysics Green Coffee Bean Extract with GCA (they're not an advertiser on this site, by the way, and they aren't paying me to write this article) sent me a bottle with the expectation that I'd probably write a favorable review on Amazon, where they sell it. I didn't, of course, because I hadn't even taken it, but I have now, and I know that it works.

Well, I think it works. I have both increased my consumption of coffee from zero cups to one or two cups a day and taken their product, and I've lost 22 pounds. It could be the coffee, or it could be the product, or more likely it's both. But here's what I know about green coffee extract from the literature and my own recent experience.

What Is Green Coffee Bean Extract?

Green coffee beans are coffee beans that haven't been roasted, that could still germinate.

 An extract is, in this case, essentially the residue left by grinding up the beans, mixing them with hot water, and letting the liquid evaporate. Most "natural" products are turned into extracts with some very unnatural methods, such as boiling them in hexane and hoping the toxic solvent evaporates (it sometimes doesn't) from the extract it is used to make.

But green coffee bean extract is basically brewed green coffee in a capsule. Manufacturers standardize the amount of chlorogenic acid in the product in a step that requires mixing the grounds with ethanol, the alcohol in alcoholic beverages, which is boiled off from the mix as it is dried so it can be encapsulated.

What's Special About Green Coffee Bean Extract?

It's notoriously hard to grow coffee plants from seed. Even under the most favorable conditions, it takes about two months to get a tiny coffee bush to sprout from a green coffee bean. (Roasted beans, of course, won't germinate.) The green bean breaks down its tough coat with the help of an enzyme called proteinase.

Scientists have only known since 2012 that the proteinase in green coffee actually gets into your system when you drink (not recommended) coffee made with green coffee beans or take a supplement. And green coffee bean extract is also a source of a weight loss related compound called chlorogenic acid.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • Vinson JA, Burnham BR, Nagendran MV. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, linear dose, crossover study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a green coffee bean extract in overweight subjects. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2012. 5:21-7. doi: 10.2147/DMSO.S27665. Epub 2012 Jan 18.
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