Potential Super-Antioxidant in Coffee May Protect Against Obesity

Jenna Birch

Just when you thought your morning cup of coffee couldn’t get better…THIS. (Photo by Getty Images)

Past research has shown coffee is packed with antioxidants and their subsequent benefits, potentially preventing conditions like cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Now, a new study suggests a chemical compound found in coffee might protect against a host of obesity-related diseases, as well.

So, what’s this buzzy nutrient in your cup of joe?

It’s a potent antioxidant called chlorogenic acid (CGA), which scientists focused on in a new study published in Pharmaceutical Research. For 15 weeks, the researchers fed mice a high-fat diet while also injecting them with a chlorogenic acid solution twice a week. Not only did the CGA prevent the mice from gaining weight during the test period, but the effects against obesity were also promising.

“We found that CGA significantly blocked the development of high fat diet-induced obesity, and in the meantime, CGA treatment curbed obesity-related metabolic syndrome, such as fatty liver and insulin resistance,” lead study author Yongjie Ma, a postdoctoral research associate in University of Georgia’s College of Pharmacy, told Yahoo Health.

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Since 60 percent of adults in the U.S. are now obese or overweight, and the condition is ever-expanding, there is an increased demand for safe and effective strategies to curb the problem and its associated diseases.

Mmmm….coffee. (Gif by imagr.com)

“Coffee is one of the most widely-consumed beverages, and has shown benefits to lower the risk of developing chronic diseases, such as type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer,” he said. “We tried to find the component in coffee which exerts these effects.”

Zeroing in on CGA to counter the negative effects of obesity-related conditions makes sense, as scientists have suspected CGA helps reduce inflammation, and obesity-related illnesses often result in chronic inflammation. Ma hopes the research is a first step in developing better treatments for a growing problem. However, there are a couple caveats to the study. First off, the researchers worked with mice. Secondly, they injected the mice with a high dose of CGA, a lot more than you’d get in a standard cup of java.

Ma explained that the research is preliminary, and he’s not suggesting people load up on excess coffee. That said, CGA is a powerful antioxidant for reducing inflammation, as well as improving glucose and lipid metabolism. Getting a modest amount of the compound into your diet — a typical coffee drinker consumes roughly a half a gram to one gram per day — can’t hurt. Enjoy your morning roast with that in mind. And even if you’re not a coffee drinker, CGA is also found in fruits and vegetables like apples, pears, tomatoes and blueberries.

Beyond this new research, considering coffee’s nutrient profile and supposed-benefit list as a whole, there’s more and more reason to get your daily dose (if you’re a fan).

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Keri Gans, MS, RD, author of The Small Change Diet, said anywhere from two to four eight-ounce cups of coffee a day should pack the benefits and keep you at a safe dose of caffeine (under 400 mg for most adults).

“You can feel good about your cup of coffee,” Gans told Yahoo Health. “As long as it’s coffee, not dessert. Add minimal sugar and fat, maybe a Splenda or tablespoon of sugar along with a little bit of whole milk if you like it — but skip the whip, heavy cream and syrups.” Which won’t protect against those aforementioned obesity-related conditions.

Simply put? Sip smart.