Coffee: It’s an antidote to Monday mornings, a go-to afternoon pick-me-up and a reason to get out of bed.
But it’s not exactly the coffee we’re after in these situations — it’s the caffeine. Caffeine improves alertness, boosts our mood and helps us start the day right.
What’s more, the coffee most people drink might not be the best source of caffeine for them. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that unroasted green coffee beans provide a healthier, more effective source of caffeine.
The Difference Between Green Coffee and Black Coffee
Since most people are accustomed to drinking coffee from roasted beans, the idea of green coffee may seem strange. But green bean coffee and black bean coffee are derived from the same exact source; they’re just processed differently. Black coffee beans have merely undergone a roasting process, and green coffee is made with beans that haven’t been roasted, as Derek Bryan at Livestrong describes.
In essence, green coffee is the raw version of black coffee. Although green and black coffee beans are derived from the same plant, green coffee beans are shown to offer more physical and mental health benefits. This is mainly because roasting the beans removes most of the nutrients, antioxidants and pharmacologically active compounds naturally present in coffee beans.
As the National Coffee Association writes, “roasting causes chemical changes to take place as the beans are rapidly brought to very high temperatures.” This does have the benefit of removing the bitterness from coffee beans, and it helps extract the attractive aromas and flavors naturally present in green coffee beans.
The degree to which beans are roasted further provides a variety of coffee tastes, textures and colors. The team at Pinebrook Coffee Roasters in New York notes how lighter roasts tend to be more acidic and have more caffeine, whereas dark roasts are smokier, more oily and lighter on the caffeine.
Different people have different coffee preferences, and many people drink coffee solely for taste. If a daily caffeine fix is important to you, however, it’s important to understand the benefits you may be missing by drinking black coffee alone.
Health Benefits of Green Bean Coffee
One of the main nutrients available in raw coffee beans is chlorogenic acid, dietician Joe Leech points out.
Chlorogenic acid has a variety of preventative health benefits that can boost longevity and quality of life. For one, it has been linked to lower blood pressure. Nutrition educator Michael Joseph points to three different studies that reinforce this point. In one randomized study, participants’ blood pressures were measured after regularly drinking no coffee, regularly drinking green coffee and regularly drinking black coffee.
“Compared to no coffee, regularly drinking black coffee and green coffee decreased both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings,” Joseph summarizes. “The difference was small for black coffee drinkers, but ‘significant’ for green coffee drinkers.” The higher concentrations of chlorogenic acid present in green coffee appear to account for “a statistically significant, moderate reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.”
Another benefit of chlorogenic acid is that it contains neuroprotective effects that can combat mental health issues, according to the Designs for Health blog. This is because neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, are associated with neuroinflammation and oxidative stress. Depression and other common mood disorders also fall into this category.
Chlorogenic acids works to reduce free radicals — volatile molecules known to contribute to illness, aging and disease in the human body. Reducing free radicals aids in the expression of neuroprotective ribosomal proteins, which can in turn reduce the inflammation and stress that contribute to these conditions.
Chlorogenic Acid and Healthy Weight Regulation
Chlorogenic acid is also associated with healthy weight regulation and weight loss.
Studies have shown that chlorogenic acid can reduce the absorption of carbohydrates from the digestive tract. This in turn lowers the blood sugar and insulin spikes associated with increased carbohydrate consumption. In other words, regularly consuming drinks derived from green coffee beans may reduce the negative impact of carbohydrates on the body.
Green coffee helps the body lose weight in a number of different ways. Case in point: A pair of researchers in Edinburgh, R. Revuelta-Iniesta and E. A. S. Al-Dujaili, conducted a study in which 18 healthy participants consumed exclusively black and green coffee for 14 days each. When the participants were drinking only green coffee, the researchers found that their cortisol levels decreased dramatically. Cortisol levels are related to weight and hormonal regulation, and high cortisol is linked to weight gain and retention.
The researchers concluded that the ability of green coffee to reduce cortisol may also suggest that green coffee can promote weight and fat loss.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Caffeine Consumption
Unlike their roasted counterparts, green coffee beans contain less caffeine per bean. Specifically, one cup of coffee from roasted beans may contain 100 mg of caffeine, says instant coffee retailer Green Brew. The same size serving of green coffee may contain just 20mg.
Moderate amounts of caffeine — up to 400 mg per day, according to Mayo Clinic — has been linked to a variety of health benefits. For one, it has been shown to increase short-term memory skills.
“Caffeine appears to affect the particular areas of the brain responsible for memory and concentration, providing a boost to short-term memory,” says Nikki Jong at One Medical. She explains that caffeine can also battle fatigue to help people achieve more endurance during workouts.
Exceeding this limit, however, can cause problems for both mental and physical health. Donald Hensrud, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, explains that problems can arise in certain individuals due to varying rates of metabolization. People who metabolize caffeine more slowly are more susceptible to its negative side effects, including heartburn, heart palpitations and irritability.
Consuming too much caffeine can also contribute to insomnia because its effects can last up to 9.5 hours, says dietician Mary Jane McCluggage. “People who are sensitive to caffeine or who consume too much are at a greater risk of struggling to fall and stay asleep, which can prompt daytime exhaustion.”
Since green coffee beans have about one-fifth of the caffeine found in roasted beans, drinking green coffee is a safe way to enjoy the benefits of the stimulant without overdoing it.
The Best Ways to Consume Green Coffee
Green coffee beans can be ground and simmered at home, but many people find the taste to be too bitter, VeryWell writer Cathy Wong writes. This is why many people prefer to reap the benefits of green coffee by drinking the extract, which can be included in a variety of drinks for optimal taste and longevity.
San Francisco-based coffee professional Sandra Elisa Loofbourow provides a few recipe ideas for drinking the extract. In her spiced ginger cooler, for example, green coffee extract is paired with ginger beer, spiced simple syrup and sparkling water for a well-rounded and refreshing taste. Loofbourow explains that this drink is complete with a mild spiciness and earthiness that brings balance to the muddy and bitter nature of the green coffee.
Our natural energy gummies are also made with green coffee beans because of the clean energy they provide.
Regardless of how you consume green coffee extract, it’s important to note that it offers many long-term benefits beyond what an ordinary cup of coffee can provide.