By Dr. Jack Wolfson
Feb 08, 2021

Coffee can be heart healthy. The coffee seed contains hundreds of compounds, many proven to support heart health. One of the most important and most studied of these compounds is the chlorogenic acid group. Let’s dive into this topic a little deeper. 

What are chlorogenic acids?

Chlorogenic acids (or CGA for short) are a group of phenolic compounds, which are essentially high dose plant antioxidants found abundantly in coffee. In fact, it has been reported that coffee contains some of the highest levels of these crucial polyphenols!

According to science, chlorogenic acid makes up about 5-10% of quality coffee beans, which is much larger than the caffeine content at 1-2%. The signature taste of coffee with the notes of sweet and sour tastes are attributed to the chlorogenic acid content.

Arguably the most health promoting substance found in coffee, these chlorogenic acids are why science is now touting coffee as a “health food” with widespread benefits for every organ system.

What are the cardiovascular health benefits of chlorogenic acids? 

Chlorogenic acids are very biologically active substances meaning they have direct benefits on human physiology, including the heart. These substances have been well studied with regards to their impacts on cardiovascular health and disease prevention.

According to recent research, these chlorogenic acids have been shown to:
● Reduce blood pressure
● Inhibit the oxidation of LDL particles
● Lower the risk and progression of atherosclerosis
● Ward off heart failure
● Prevent heart attacks
● Keep metabolic health in check

While research is still examining these uniquely beneficial compounds, it has been established that there are a few different mechanisms for why chlorogenic acids are so protective of the heart.

  1. The evidence shows that chlorogenic acids protect the circulatory system. This is done by their role in lowering inflammation, suppressing oxidative stress, and preventing platelet aggregation, all of which boost circulation and may decrease heart attack and stroke risk.
  2. CGA’s are also vasodilatory in nature. This means they keep blood vessels relaxed, blood flowing and blood pressure down. Again, the reason they support proper vasodilation is likely due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  3. Chlorogenic acids also play a key role in lipid metabolism, which helps to support healthy cholesterol levels. One of the main mechanisms for this is due to their effects on blood glucose regulation. The number one cause of “bad cholesterol” is actually high blood sugar. If you can keep blood sugar in the normal range, especially after a meal, you can achieve optimal cholesterol levels.
  4. Another exciting effect of these CGA’s, according to research, is that chlorogenic acids can reduce the oxidative susceptibility of LDL cholesterol(which prevents the cholesterol from being “damaged”). This is something we test for as oxidized cholesterol is a top driver of atherosclerosis, plaque rupture and heart attacks.
  5. A study also showed that chlorogenic acids can also inhibit an enzyme called 11-βHSD1, which is involved in making hormones that raises blood pressure. By inhibiting this enzyme the chlorogenic acids help to lower blood pressure and increase arterial elasticity.

What other health benefits come from chlorogenic acids? 

Chlorogenic acids have many physiological benefits on the entire body. They are highly protective against chronic disease specifically through their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions.

Some of the other top health benefits of chlorogenic acid include but are not limited to:

  1. It is a strong antioxidant
     Dietary plant antioxidants quench free radicals, suppress oxidative stress and reduce inflammation, all of which protect the health of your cells and organ systems and ward off disease. The body needs plenty of antioxidants like chlorogenic acid daily.
  2. It boosts cellular function
    Phenols like chlorogenic acid protect your cells and therefore protect against chronic degenerative diseases like heart disease and cancer. If your cells are healthy then you are healthy.
  3. Could prevent diabetes
    One of the most well-studied effects of chlorogenic acids is on their ability to regulate blood sugar and insulin. This is why research has shown that regular consumption of coffee, which is high in chlorogenic acid, is linked to a lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes. It has even been shown that chlorogenic acid is antidiabetic because it works similar to metformin in its ability to increase sensitivity of cells to insulin.
  4. It is anti-cancer
    Due to the powerful antioxidant effects of CGA, it is also being studied for it’s potent anti-cancer roles. In fact, a novel 2019 study concluded that chlorogenic acid could be an effective treatment for cancer as it is able to “educate” cancer cells to properly differentiate and thereby reduce growth and invasion into other tissues thus protecting the cells and their energy stores.
  5. Can aid in weight loss
    One of the main mechanisms for how chlorogenic acid can assist with weight loss is due to its role on insulin. A 2019 study found that coffee, which is abundant in chlorogenic acids, is effective at reducing abdominal fat, BMI and waist circumference in overweight individuals.
  6. Can alter the gut microbiota
    New research is also beginning to shed light on the ability of CGA to improve gut health. A recent study suggested that chlorogenic acid has beneficial impacts on the gut microbiota such as improving the intestinal barrier, improving the gut bacteria makeup and boosting levels of short chain fatty acids.

As you can see, getting more of this antioxidant into your daily life is a must for optimal health!

How to get more chlorogenic acids into your daily intake? 

Enjoy a warm mug of quality, organic coffee in the morning! If you’re a coffee drinker, this is the perfect way to ensure you’re getting in plenty of this heart-healthy antioxidant. Heavily roasting the beans actually decreases CGA content, so rely on light or medium roasted coffee beans abundant in these CGA antioxidants such as that of Cardiology Coffee.

You now have a prescription from a cardiologist: drink coffee for better heart health!

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