From cutting the risk of cirrhosis to protecting against diabetes, coffee has long been associated with a variety of rumored health benefits. Now new research suggests that a cup of Joe may help keep obesity-related diseases at bay.
According to researchers at the University of Georgia, the magic appears to be linked to a chemical in coffee called CGA (chlorogenic acid). For people battling obesity, the risk of developing an insulin resistance is particularly high. Similarly, obese people are also more likely to suffer from a buildup of fat in the liver. In this latest study, which focused on mice models, investigators found CGA to improve these issues while also preventing weight gain.
Researchers say that significant amounts of CGA are found in coffee, apples, pears, tomatoes and blueberries. To better understand the compound’s benefits, they injected mice with a CGA solution twice weekly while also feeding them a high-fat diet for 15 weeks. In addition to staving off weight gain, CGA appeared to have protective affects with regard to blood sugar levels and liver function.
“We’re not suggesting that people start drinking a lot of coffee to protect themselves from an unhealthy lifestyle,” lead author Yongjie Ma, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Georgia, said in a statement.
However, Ma does acknowledge that CGA is a strong antioxidant that appears to reduce inflammation. The goal is to create a therapeutic using CGA that could cut the risk of obesity-related diseases.
When it comes to the risks and benefits of coffee consumption, experts appear split. One 2013 study found that people who drink coffee heavily may be at a higher risk for early death. Researchers from that study say that negative health effects appear to creep in for people drinking more than four cups a day.
Another concern to keep in mind has to do with caffeine, which is addictive. For people who’ve become dependent on it, going without caffeine can lead to headaches, fatigue and issues with mental clarity.