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Green Coffee Bean Extracts, Do You Get What You Pay For?

Green coffee bean extract

You may be familiar with recent claims that green coffee bean extracts are a safe and effective natural way to fight obesity and to lose weight. Yet as often happens when a new product makes a big splash in the market and is touted by the media, there are individuals and companies that try to make a big profit by skimping on quality, and green coffee bean extracts are no exception.

How do green coffee bean extracts work?

Green coffee bean extracts are made from raw or unroasted coffee beans. It's well recognized that coffee beans contain caffeine, and caffeine can help speed up metabolism and thus help with weight loss. However, the weight-loss benefits of green coffee beans are also attributed to other components, including chlorogenic acid, guinides, lignans, and trigonelline, which enhance the metabolism of glucose in animals.

Of these substances, chlorogenic acid (CGA) has been of special interest because it can inhibit the activity of an enzyme called glucose-6-phosphatase. It appears that CGA can reduce the amount of fat people absorb from food and also stimulate the burning of fat. According to ConsumerLab, an independent testing group, CGA comprises up to 50 percent of most green coffee bean extracts.

A 22-week University of Scranton study evaluated the effectiveness and safety of a green coffee extract at reducing weight and body mass in 16 adults who were overweight. All the participants took either 1,050 mg or 700 mg of GCA or placebo in separate six-week treatment periods, followed by two-week washout periods.

The investigators noted significant reductions in body weight (average, about 17 lb), body mass index, and percent body fat without a significant change in diet over the course of the study and when the participants were taking the supplement. The authors concluded that CGA "may be an effective nutraceutical in reducing weight in preobese adults, and may be an inexpensive means of preventing obesity in overweight adults."

Green coffee beans contain a significant level of CGA, but when coffee beans undergo the roasting process, which is done to produce regular coffee, it removes the majority of this component. Therefore, green coffee beans are an important source of CGA.

Are your green coffee beans tainted?
This question has become especially important as the popularity of green coffee bean extract grows and more and more manufacturers climb on the bandwagon to market the product and enjoy big profits. One way to improve profits is to use less costly ingredients.

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One manufacturer, FutureCeuticals, recently tested two green coffee bean extracts available on the market, other than their own. According to Brad Evers, director of marketing for FutureCeuticals, "We found that it may be the case of some of the cheaper materials were being adulterated by extracting chlorogenic acid from mulberry leaves or coffee bean plants leaves themselves."

The CGA extracts from mulberry and coffee bean plants are less costly substances and are being added back into the green coffee bean extract so manufacturers can keep costs down. One of the products tested contained 15 percent non-GCA materials and the other contained 20 percent less, according to the FutureCeutical investigation.

Some may argue that FutureCeuticals had a bias in doing this study, given they have a green coffee bean extract on the market themselves. So how does an independent investigative facility rate green coffee bean extracts for quality?

ConsumerLab reviews
ConsumerLab tested eight green coffee bean extracts and an additional five were tested through its Voluntary Certification Program. Four of the eight evaluated by ConsumerLab did not contain the amount of CGAs stated on the product's label. They were:

  • Futurebiotics Green Coffee Bean Extract: stated 50%, actual 40.6%
  • Maritz Mayer Laboratories Pure Super Green Coffee Bean Extract Double Strength: stated 45%, actual 6.2%
  • Nutri-Fusion Systems Green Coffee Bean Extract: no detectable CGA
  • Pure Health Naturally Pure Green Coffee Bean, stated 45%, actual 20.9%. However, this product was recently reformulated and passed approval

The other products that passed testing include the following:

  • Genesis Today Pure Green Coffee Bean
  • Labrada Nutrition Green Coffee Bean Extract
  • Life Extension Green Coffee Extract CoffeeGenic
  • Paradise Herbs, Green Coffee Bean
  • Reserveage + Advanced Solution Green Coffee Bean Extract with Raspberry Ketones
  • ResVitale Green Coffee Bean Weight Loss Formula
  • Vitacost Green Coffee Bean Extract
  • Vitamin World Green Coffee Bean Extract

Please note the green coffee extract supplements mentioned do not represent all the products available on the market.

Formulas for supplements can change at any time, and consumers often are not aware of modifications in these products or how they affect safety and effectiveness. If you are in the market for a green coffee bean extract, be sure to do your research, select a product from a reputable firm, and check often for any product testing and/or published study results.

Vinson JA et al. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, linear dose, crossover study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a green coffee bean extract in overweight subjects. Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity 2012; 5:21-27

Updated 12/5/2014



There are so many green coffee bean extract on the market I'm so confused. Thank you for helping me make a decision.
Carole: Thank you for the comment! It pays to be an educated, informed consumer, and I'm glad I could help in some small way.
thank you for this post ! Is it possible to do any harm from my side , as a customer , to those selling fals products on the market? because i never get to find the product that i pay for ... :( thank you in advance regardless the answer ...
Stefen: Thanks for the question. Personally I don't advocate doing "harm." Consumers speak with their wallets and companies get the point when it affects their bottom line. You certainly can voice your displeasure with products that have been shown (e.g., by ConsumerLabs or other reputable firms) to be less than advertised. Sharing verifiable information with others certainly seems like a good idea. Contacting the company that has marketed a falsely advertised product and letting them know how you feel also is an option.Making disparaging remarks about a product that did not help you, however, is not fair because no product has the same impact on everyone. As health product consumers, we need to investigate the supplements we take. I would think your energy and time would be better spent ensuring you have found supplements that have been well tested and to periodically check to see if there is any news about them. Articles and websites that say "studies show" or "research has shown" and then do not provide the references are suspect. I hope this answer has helped you. Cheers
I thought GCB with Svetol by Wonder Lab was among those tested by Consumers Lab. Now, I'm more confused than ever.
I always think its not good news when a company who supplies a product does research on the same product by other manufactures and implies that some may be using mulberry leaves, fair enough on the chlorogenic acid levels, bit shocked at how low some of them were, but still independent research on green coffee bean extract pills is the way to go to instill confidence in the consumer. My advice is to read reviews and shop around and try one if it does not seem to do the job try a different one, best of all ask around you might know people that have tried a brand and found it effective.