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The Chlorogenic Acid in Coffee May Help Balance Blood Sugar and Ward Off Diabetes

Plus it safeguards your heart and aids weight loss, too

Sipping a cup of coffee is a beloved and often critical part of many people’s day. But it does more than provide a pick-me-up when you’re feeling tired or foggy. A powerful antioxidant called chlorogenic acid in coffee is a potent way to perk up your health.

“Coffee plants produce polyphenols to defend themselves against temperature fluctuations and high winds,” explains Bob Arnot, MD, author of The Coffee Lover’s Diet. “When you drink this high-polyphenol coffee, those same compounds work in the human body to protect you against muscle loss, heart disease and other ailments.” 

Here, discover all the study-proven health benefits of chlorogenic acid in coffee, plus how to maximize the benefits you get from every single mug.

What is chlorogenic acid in coffee?

“Chlorogenic acids (CGAs) are a class of compounds formed between caffeic acid and quinic acids,” explains Ildi Revi, the Chief Coffee Officer (responsible for research on the health benefits of coffee and creating production processes that preserve CGAs) for Purity Organic Coffee and a Certified Q Arabica Instructor and Grader (the equivalent of a highly trained wine sommelier, but for coffee). “They represent an abundant group of plant polyphenols that are in many foods and beverages in the human diet, including coffee and tea, as well as several fruits and vegetables.”

Despite the fact that chlorogenic acid is found in a variety of foods, including blueberries, apples, sunflower seeds, and tomatoes, coffee is one of, if not the best source in our diet. “The polyphenols in black coffee are readily bioavailable, which is not the case with all foods,” says Revi. “It’s why coffee is considered one of the most important contributors to antioxidant intake in many countries, since people drink it daily and often multiple times.” (Click through to learn how coffee reduces your risk of a silent stroke and how coffee can reverse Ozempic tiredness.)

A brown mug with coffee beans, which contain chlorogenic acid
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Related: Dr. Bob Arnot: Choose *This* Kind of Coffee For Up To 20x More Health Benefits

The health benefits of chlorogenic acid in coffee

“Women drinking 4-5 cups of coffee a day may have up to a 15% decrease in all causes of death, according to a landmark study in the New England Journal of Medicine,” says Dr. Arnot. Here are some more of the study-proven perks:

1. Better blood sugar regulation

For folks struggling with high blood sugar or type 2 diabetes, chlorogenic acid can help. In a study in the Journal of Medicinal Food, folks who had the equivalent of 4 cups of chlorogenic acid-rich coffee per day saw a significant decrease in fasting blood glucose levels, body weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference within 12 weeks. “Chlorogenic acid improves glucose tolerance, lipid metabolism, inflammation and the microbiome,” explains Dr. Arnot.

Because of this, it helps reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, one 10-year study found that people who enjoyed as little as one cup of coffee daily were 54% less likely to develop diabetes. (Click through for food swaps for diabetes that reduce your risk. Not into coffee? Click through to learn how apple cider vinegar, raw honey and garlic and honey balance blood sugar, too.)

Related: Cutting Back on Sugar? Docs Say Sucralose Is OK In Moderation, But May Have Sneaky Side Effects

2. Improved heart health

There are multiple ways that chlorogenic acid has been shown to improve heart health, including lowering high blood pressure and improving the health of blood vessels. A review in the Journal of Human Hypertension looked at seven different studies encompassing hundreds of people with high blood pressure. They found that consuming chlorogenic acid reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 4 points each.

Meanwhile, a separate study in the European Journal of Nutrition found that just a single cup of CGA-rich coffee improves blood flow through the arteries by 20% after one hour and 33% after two hours. This eases strain on your ticker. (Click through to learn how a supplement known as quercetin improves heart health, too.)

A woman with grey hair and a blue shirt making a heart shape with her hands
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3. Speedier weight loss

Just 2 cups of high-chlorogenic acid coffee per day is enough to aid weight loss, according to a study in the journal Nutrients. Researchers found that those who sipped CGA-rich brews daily for 12 weeks saw up to a 25% reduction in visceral fat, the dangerous fat that settles around your organs, and up to a 13% reduction in total fat. Plus they reduced their waist circumference and total body weight. The researchers suspect that the CGA increases energy expenditure and fat burning, making it easier to melt stubborn pounds.

Related: Dr. Bob Arnot: Swap Your Dark Roast Coffee for a Lighter Roast for Automatic Weight Loss

4. A healthier liver

“Chlorogenic acid plays one of the most important roles in coffee’s positive impact on liver health,” says Revi. The proof: A study in Frontiers in Pharmacology found that chlorogenic acid reversed the negative effects of a high fat diet on the liver. Specifically, it alleviated inflammation, lowered blood lipid levels and improved other factors associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. (Click through to learn how the chlorogenic acid in coffee eases gout, too)

How to get the most chlorogenic acid in coffee

Since it is naturally occurring in the coffee plant, all coffee contains some concentration of chlorogenic acid. That said, there are steps you can take to maximize how much you get in every cup.

1. Choose lighter roasts

Always opt for a light or medium roast over a darker roast, since some chlorogenic acid is lost during roasting. “Once you roast a bean beyond a medium, 75% of the polyphenols are burned off,” notes Dr. Arnot. 

As far as coffee type, Revi says to go with a high quality robusta coffee over a pricier arabica. “Robusta coffees are higher in CGA content than arabica coffees, even though arabica coffees are considered higher quality and more palatable,” she notes. “Robusta coffees are a large part of the commercial coffee supply chain and generally available everywhere.” Other things to keep in mind when making this choice: Robusta coffees tend to have more caffeine and a more distinct and bitter “coffee” flavor.

2. Drink it black if you can

Compounds in full-fat dairy have been shown to bind to the polyphenols in coffee and prevent them from being absorbed, so try to skip the milk and dairy-based creamers. If you do need to add something, consider a splash of coconut, almond or oat milk. “These high-polyphenol coffees contain notes of chocolate, honey, hazelnut, and berries,” Dr. Arnot says. “They have wonderful, complex tastes. You won’t want to add anything because it tastes great on its own.” (Tip: Click through to learn how plain coffee can ease a migraine and tension headache, too.)

A cup of black roast coffee, which has chlorogenic acid, on a teal saucer and white background
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3. Sip 3-4 cups a day

Dr. Arnot suggests getting 1,000 mg of chlorogenic acid in coffee per day to reap the health benefits. According to a study in the journal Molecules, the amount of CGA in one cup of coffee can range from 70-350 mg. That means if you follow the above tips, you should be able to come close to 1,000 mg with 3-4 cups. If that sounds like too much caffeine, don’t worry: Decaf coffee contains chlorogenic acid as well, just a little bit less. “The very best decafs have about 25% fewer polyphenols than caffeinated coffees,” Dr. Arnot explains. So if you’re going all decaf, you may need to drink a bit more.

Not a coffee drinker?

Dr. Arnot notes that drinking coffee is the best way to get the benefits of chlorogenic acid, since compounds in the brew work synergistically to help the body absorb it. “Coffee works because it gets into the microbiome and transforms it,” he explains. “I would stick with coffee” if you can. That said, you can try supplementing with chlorogenic acid, often found as green coffee extract, instead. One to try: Nature’s Craft Green Coffee Bean Extract (Buy from Amazon, $16.77).


For more foods that help balance blood sugar:

These 9 Simple (and Delicious!) Food Swaps Significantly Lower Diabetes Risk, Say MDs

9 Low-Glycemic Fruits to Consider Adding to Your Diet — Even If You Suffer from Diabetes

Cinnamon Controls Blood Sugar in Those With Prediabetes, New Study Suggests

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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