Chlorogenic acid is a polyphenol compound found in coffee beans that is known for its antibacterial, anti-inflammation and anticarcinogenic properties. (1).
Chlorogenic acid is found in high levels in coffee beans and varying forms of coffee. It is also a found in many fruits and vegetables, including apples, pears, eggplant, blueberries, tomatoes, strawberries and potatoes.
Chlorogenic acid has caught the attention of researchers due to its potential to treat a host of medical conditions, from improving mood to reducing oxidative stress to lowering blood sugar levels.
Researchers note that concentrated extracts of green coffee beans (unroasted beans) provide the best source of chlorogenic acid. The high temperatures used during the roasting process to make beans suitable for coffee break down most of the beneficial chlorogenic acid content.
Chlorogenic acid has antibacterial properties. A study published in the Journal of Food Science, presented evidence backing up the hypothesis of researchers that this compound could inhibit the growth of bacterial pathogens. An investigation into the action revealed that the chlorogenic acid bound to the outer membrane of the pathogen, disrupted the membrane, interfered with the intracellular potential, and released cytoplasm macromolecules, which led to cell death (2).
Chlorogenic acid may help inflammation. In a 2013 study, researchers performed a study on inflammation-induced male rats to investigate the effects of chlorogenic acid on liver inflammation and fibrosis. At the end of the eight-week study, chlorogenic acid significantly reduced liver damage and symptoms of liver fibrosis (3).
The results of this study is another step in the right direction in helping researchers find effective treatments for a range of inflammatory conditions, especially those affecting the liver.
Liver fibrosis is the first stage of liver scarring. Over time, fibrosis can lead to cirrhosis in which the liver becomes so scarred that that blood flow through the liver and liver function becomes disrupted.
Chlorogenic acid improves mood. Coffee is the go-to people reach for each morning to give them that much-needed burst of energy. Researchers have also discovered that chlorogenic acid can help improve mood and cognition.
In a pilot study, 39 healthy older participants were given decaffeinated coffee with regular chlorogenic acid content or decaffeinated coffee with high chlorogenic acid content. The results of a battery of cognitive tasks were recorded at baseline and following the equivalent of three cups of coffee.
The higher concentrations of chlorogenic acid had a moderate effect on some mood and behavioral measures (4).
In another study, mice treated with E. ulmoides extract enriched with chlorogenic acid for seven days, exhibited reduced depression-like symptoms (based on the tail suspension test). Researchers also noted that chlorogenic acid is able to cross the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier to exhibit its neuron protection and increased serotonin release (5).
Serotonin is a chemical and neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood, social behavior and regulate anxiety.
Chlorogenic acid may play a role in cancer treatment.
In the race to find effective chemosensitizers (drugs that make tumor cells more sensitive to the effects of chemotherapy), researchers have turned their attention to chlorogenic acid. In a study published in Anticancer Drugs journal, researchers explored the ability of chlorogenic acid to boost the effects of the cancer treatment drug, Fluorouracil, in destroying human liver carcinoma cells.
The results show that the combined treatment of chlorogenic acid with Fluorouracil greatly enhanced the inhibition of hepatocellular carcinoma cells’ production, when compared to treatment with Fluorouracil alone (6).
Chlorogenic acid helps reduce high blood pressure in animal and human studies. The authors of a paper published in Clinical and Experimental Hypertension examined the blood pressure-lowering effect the compound in patients with mild hypertension. At the end of the study, the group given 140 mg/day of chlorogenic acid had a significant decrease in blood pressure (systolic and diastolic) without apparent side effects (7).
Chlorogenic acid can help control blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes is an increasing global health problem. According to the CDC, approximately 30.3 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, while another 84.1 million have prediabetes (8). High blood sugar puts people at an increased risk of heart attacks, stroke and other health problems.
The results of a 2015 study examining the effects of chlorogenic acid on glucose and lipid metabolism in diabetic mice, yielded the following positive results:
Chlorogenic acid decreased the fasting plasma glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin and visceral fat contents and improved renal fibrosis in the diabetic mice.
What’s more, researchers found that chlorogenic acid did not have any adverse effects on the tested mice (9).
While the researchers stressed that more studies are needed to better understand the mechanism of chlorogenic acid-mediated improvements, they also stated, “Our findings combined with the evidence from other studies strongly suggest that chlorogenic acid, as a natural phytochemical, may contribute, at least in part, to the beneficial effect of coffee on the blood glucose levels of patients with type 2 diabetes.” (10)
Some side effects reported include stimulant effects, laxative effects, nervousness, nausea, vomiting, headache, anxiety and increased or irregular heartbeat (11).
It is best to always consult with a medical professional before considering taking chlorogenic acid. This is especially important for those with diabetes, anxiety and cardiovascular disease.
Many of the human studies performed were based on short-term use; testing is needed to better assess the possible side effects with long-term use.
Oral supplementation of chlorogenic acid appears to have benefits in the range of 120-300mg per day.
The safety of taking higher doses has not been sufficiently tested. Follow dose recommendations on the bottle. Remember that chlorogenic acid has caffeine content; try not to consume in the evening or late afternoon hours to prevent sleep interruptions.
Chlorogenic acid is a polyphenol compound found in coffee beans with growing evidence backing up its antibacterial, anti-inflammation and anticarcinogenic properties. Concentrated extracts of green coffee beans (unroasted beans) provide the best source of chlorogenic acid.
Researchers are also studying its effect on treating and preventing other medical conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, as well as its role in improving mood and cognition.
Side effects are similar to those that come with caffeine consumption, including laxative effects, nervousness and increased or irregular heartbeat. Other effects may include nausea, vomiting, headache and anxiety.