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#WTFis Starbucks' New Green Coffee
Greatist's #WTFis series looks at new trends in health and fitness to explain what the heck they are, why people care, and if they live up to the hype.
Walking past any Starbucks this summer, something green has caught our eye. It’s been impossible to avoid ads for Starbucks’ new “Green Coffee Extract” energy drinks. We decided to dig into Green Coffee and see what this brand-new super-substance is really about.
Green coffee is made from plain old coffee beans. The difference is that green coffee is unroasted and fresh off the stem. Instead of roasting the beans for that distinctive, smoky, aromatic flavor, green coffee beans are left in their just-picked, raw state. To get “green coffee extract,” green coffee beans are boiled in water for 15 minutes. The coffee bean-infused liquid is then strained and blended with other ingredients like water, fruit flavors, or sugar.
What’s the Deal? Is it Legit?
The main hype behind green coffee beans is that they contain chlorogenic acid, caffeine, and ferulic acid, compounds that have been shown to promote weight loss and lower blood pressure. All coffee contains chlorogenic acid, but the antioxidant is more easily metabolized from unroasted beans .
“Health experts” and celebrity dieters alike tout green coffee extract as a new weight loss “miracle supplement.” Joe Vinson, the chemist at the University of Scranton who ran a single pilot study on weight loss and green coffee extract in Bangalore, India, claims that “it appears that green coffee bean extract may work by reducing the absorption of fat and glucose in the gut; it may also reduce insulin levels, which would improve metabolic function.” Vinson’s report shows that green coffee bean extract can be effective in weight loss. But the study has limitations — it included only 16 adults, it did not follow-up on the subjects’ weight after they stopped consuming green coffee extract, it was not entirely blinded — which have left scientists and physicians alike unconvinced .
(Also Check Out: 15 Unexpected Reasons to Love Caffeine)
Similarly, some studies have shown green coffee extract can help lower mildly elevated blood pressure . However, reports on the effects of regular coffee on blood pressure have produced conflicting information  .
The Buzz — Why Do People Care Now?
Oprah’s celeb-physician Dr. Oz featured green coffee extract on his TV show in April, and interest in the product has skyrocketed since then. Starbucks introduced its Refreshers line of green coffee extract beverages in early July. On all website and product materials, the coffee company avoids any mention of weight loss and instead markets its green coffee as a light, refreshing beverage that has less caffeine than regular coffee but with all the same benefits.
The excitement about green coffee is similar to the hype over green tea. Right now, the supposed health benefits of green coffee are inconclusive and have barely been studied. There’s no harm in trying a Starbucks Refreshers drink for a fruity, thirst-quenching coffee alternative, but don’t expect it to do anything fancier than having a cup of Joe, but perhaps with a few extra spoonfuls of sugar.
Have you tried green coffee? Is it a new wonder-drink or a passing fad? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo by GMWdesign, Video by Starbucks
- Chlorogenic acids from green coffee extract are highly bioavailable in humans. Farah A, Montiero M, Donangelo CM, Lafay S. Departamento de Bioquímica, Laboratório de Bioquímica Nutricional e de Alimentos, Instituto de Química, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Illha do Fundão, RJ, Brazil. Journal of Nutrition. 2008 Dec; 138 (12):2309-15⤴
- Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled linear dose, crossover study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a green coffee bean extract in overweight subjects. Vinson JA, Burnham BR, Nagendran MV. Chemistry Department, University of Scranton, Scranton, PA, USA. Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity 2012; 5: 21-27⤴
- Antihypertensive effect of green coffee bean extract on mildly hypertensive subjects. Kozuma K, Tsuchiya S, Kohori J, Hase T, Tokimitsu I. Health Care Research Laboratories, Kao Corporation, Tokyo, Japan. Hypertension Research 2005. Sep; 28 (9): 711-8⤴
- Abstinence from coffee leads to a fall in blood pressure. Bak AA, Grobbee DE. Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Erasmus University Medical School, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Journal of Hypertension – Supplement. 1989 Dec; 7(6): S260-1⤴
- Habitual coffee consumption and blood pressure: A study of self-defense officials in Japan. Wakabayashi K, Kono S, Shinchi K, Honjo S, Todoroki I, Sakurai Y, Umeda T, Imanishi K, Yoshizawa N. Department of Public Health, National Defense Medical College, Tokorozawa, Japan. European Journal of Epidemiology. 1998 Oct;14(7):669-73⤴
Comments Leave a comment
I am thinking the only benefit green coffee will bring is enrichment to those who jump on the marketing bandwagon and ride it until the next new new thing for fat loss comes along. It is the new silver bullet for weight loss and without a healthy diet and exercise (clearly, with 60%+ of us Americans overweight, something we can't get right) this will do about what every other hyped supplement has done in the past...bupkus
@tracelessway +1 that's marketing giglet
Еthe logo is even closer. Soon it'll be only nose.)
Btw, I read that Starbucks uses the informal groups. I don't really get it but here is an article maybe someone can tell what it's all about: http://www.bestessay.com/essays/informal-and-formal-groups.php
But are you really going to lose weight if you consume your green coffee extract in a 700-calorie drink?
@JanetNaylorVandenabeele The refreshers have less than 100 calories.
So, I tried the green extract supplement for 1 month..it did nothing as far as weight loss goes. But since I can't tolerate any kind of coffee (major stomach problems boo hoo) at least the supplements made me feel "awake"...then I discovered the Starbucks refreshers! I like, not love the Hibiscus berry ...didn't really care for the Lime refresher..weird aftertaste...Get This! the green coffee bean drinks do not affect my stomach!!!! I can't believe it! Finally a "coffee" drink I can enjoy with no pain! Downside: The refreshers do contain sugar :-(( & right now they are refreshingly cold...but during the winter....well,I think I'll be wanting something warm
Wow, never realized that those Starbucks Refreshers things actually had caffeine. MInd=blown.
I have been working really hard the past 5 months to drop weight. I got the green coffee extract supplements and lost about 3 pounds, without diet and exercise. Then I started to really watch my diet and go to the gym and managed to drop 18 pounds (without taking the supplements). Then I hit a plateau that lasted about a month and a half, it was driving me crazy working out so much and eating right and my weight was going no where. Then I got super busy and couldn't make it to the gym, slipped up on my diet a little, and I know I was starting to gain the weight back, pants were getting a little snug. Then I decided to try the starbucks refreshers. I got a pack of 12 of the cans from Costco. I drink one a day. Last week I decided to step on the scale, after about 2 months of avoiding it. Drinking the refreshers is the only change I have made in the past 2 months, not only did I get rid of what ever I put back on, but lost another 4 pounds, a few days later another pound came off, so I am now down 23 pounds altogether. Only 6 more pounds till I reach my goal. Not really sure if the refreshers had anything to do with it, but it is the only change I have made in the last couple months, so I continue to drink them. I agree with tracelessway that it is a silver bullet, weight loss without diet and exercise. Just because your weight is healthy, doesn't mean you are. So I continue to eat well, and try to get to the gym whenever I can, which, unfortunately, has only been twice the past couple months.