Chlorogenic acid is a natural antioxidant compound found in coffee beans, It is mainly used to lose weight and lower blood pressure. Research suggests it may also help lower blood sugar, improve mood, and help with infections. Read on to learn more about the potential benefits and side effects of chlorogenic acid.
What Is Chlorogenic Acid?
Chlorogenic acid is a polyphenol compound found in coffee beans and different types of coffee, including green coffee. It is also found in food sources such as apples, pears, eggplant, blueberries, tomatoes, strawberries, and potatoes [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].
Chlorogenic acid is most commonly supplemented in the form of green coffee extract.
It has a variety of potential effects on health and is most notably used to reduce blood pressure and weight. However, recent studies have indicated that chlorogenic acid may also lower blood sugar levels, improve mood, and help with infections .
Note: Many studies refer to chlorogenic acids (plural) as opposed to chlorogenic acid. The plural form refers to a related family of molecules called polyphenol esters and is not exclusively referring to the effects of the individual esterified molecule, chlorogenic acid.
Green coffee bean extract is the primary natural source of chlorogenic acid and is taken in a supplemental form .
Chlorogenic acid is also a component of coffee and many fruits and vegetables, including apples, pears, eggplant, blueberries, tomatoes, strawberries, and potatoes. It is also found in bamboo, hawthorn, and Athrixia phylicoides [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].
Mechanism of Action
Chlorogenic acid primarily exerts its effects by inhibiting the enzyme alpha-glucosidase, which is responsible for breaking down carbohydrates. By doing so, it reduces the uptake of carbohydrates and glucose during digestion [8, 9].
Chlorogenic acid also has a mild psychostimulatory effect, about ⅓ of caffeine. This is mediated by its breakdown products, caffeic acid and m-coumaric acid .
Chlorogenic acid may also work by:
- Inhibiting 11-βHSD1, an enzyme involved in making hormones that raises blood pressure .
- Activating the GABAa receptor by binding to the benzodiazepine site, resulting in reduced levels of anxiety .
- Increasing Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 (GLP-1), a hormone that increases blood insulin levels and lowers glucose .
- Activating Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor alpha (PPAR-alpha), leading to increased heat production and body fat loss .
- Lowering body fat content by reducing levels of triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol, and VLDL .
- Preventing the absorption and production (by inhibiting fatty acid synthase) of fats, while increasing their breakdown (by stimulating beta-oxidation) .
- Inhibiting HMG-CoA, the enzyme responsible for the production of cholesterol and the main target of statin drugs .
- Improving the survival of dopamine-producing brain cells through the inhibition of microglial activation .
- Inhibiting acetylcholinesterase, resulting in improved cognition and memory .
- Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity
- May lower blood pressure
- May control blood sugar levels
- May help lose weight
- May improve mood and cognitive function
- May help with bacterial infections
- Insufficient evidence for some benefits
- Common sources may cause allergies and the side effects of caffeine
- May interact with medication for blood pressure and diabetes
Health Benefits of Chlorogenic Acid
Possibly Effective for:
1) Lowering Blood Pressure
A single dose of chlorogenic acid or polyphenols isolated from coffee lowered blood pressure in 2 small trials on 38 healthy people [19, 20].
Drinking chlorogenic acid-rich coffee also improved blood vessel function and lowered blood pressure in 4 clinical trials on 314 healthy people [21, 11, 22, 23].
In 4 clinical trials on over 200 people with high blood pressure, taking green coffee bean extract (rich in chlorogenic acid) lowered it by improving blood vessel dilation. Isolated chlorogenic acid also reduced blood pressure in another trial on 28 hypertensive people [24, 25, 26, 27, 28].
A single dose of chlorogenic acid (30 to 600 mg) reduced blood pressure in hypertensive rats. It also improved the function of their blood vessels .
Taken together, the evidence suggests that chlorogenic acid may lower blood pressure and improve blood vessel function in both healthy and hypertensive people. You may discuss with your doctor if it may help you as a complementary approach. Importantly, never take chlorogenic acid in place of what your doctor recommends or prescribes for high blood pressure.
2) High Blood Sugar
Multiple studies show that chlorogenic acid may reduce fasting blood sugar levels and insulin and glucose spikes following a meal.
In 57 healthy women, chlorogenic acid extract reduced the blood levels of sugar and an indicator of diabetes (HbA1c ) before meals. Coffee reduced insulin resistance in 3 small trials on 30 healthy volunteers [30, 31, 32, 33].
In a clinical trial on 15 overweight men, chlorogenic acid reduced blood sugar and insulin spikes after a 75-g oral glucose tolerance tests .
Two different nutraceuticals with chlorogenic acid improved insulin sensitivity (and improved blood fat profile) in 2 clinical trials on 130 overweight people [35, 36].
In another trial on 30 people with prediabetes (impaired glucose tolerance), 400 mg, 3x/day oral chlorogenic acid reduced fasting blood sugar and insulin secretion, while improving insulin sensitivity .
Green coffee extract reduced fasting glucose, blood fat levels, and body fat in a clinical trial on 43 people with metabolic syndrome. A natural supplement with chlorogenic acid and several plant extracts had similar effects in another trial on 78 people with this condition [38, 39].
Chlorogenic acid led to lower glucose levels in fasted mice and reduced improved diabetic markers in diabetic mice [14, 40, 41].
Although a bit limited, the existing evidence suggests that chlorogenic acid may help improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity in both healthy and obese people. Consult with your doctor if it may be helpful in your case.
3) Weight Loss
In a clinical trial on 12 healthy volunteers, chlorogenic acid-enriched coffee increased weight loss by reducing sugar absorption. In another trial on 9 healthy volunteers, chlorogenic acids from coffee increased fat burning during sleep [42, 43].
Chlorogenic acid-rich coffee reduced weight and risk factors for heart disease in a clinical trial on 52 people. In those with high blood cholesterol, it also lowered blood fat (triglycerides, total cholesterol, and “bad” LDL and VLDL cholesterol) levels .
In another trial on 16 obese individuals, green coffee bean extract taken for 22 weeks reduced weight, BMI, and body fat percentage .
Both green coffee extract and a natural supplement with chlorogenic acid and several plant extracts reduced body weight and blood fat levels in 2 clinical trials on 121 people with metabolic syndrome [38, 39].
Similarly, chlorogenic acid reduced body weight, body mass index, and waist circumference in another trial on 30 people with prediabetes (impaired glucose tolerance) .
However, dark roast (low in chlorogenic acid) coffee was more effective than light roast coffee at reducing body weight in a clinical trial on 30 healthy people .
A study on obese mice fed a high-fat diet also found that chlorogenic acid was capable of inducing body fat loss and increasing body heat production .
Again, limited evidence suggests that chlorogenic acid may help lower blood fats and lose weight. However, doing more exercise and improving your diet may be more effective. You may, in addition, take chlorogenic acid if your doctor determines that it may help you. Remember to carefully follow your doctor’s recommendations when it comes to weight loss.
Insufficient Evidence for:
1) Improving Mood
In a clinical trial on 39 elderly people, 3 cups of decaffeinated coffee enriched with chlorogenic acid improved mood and attention .
In another trial on 15 cyclists, taking high-chlorogenic acid coffee (300 ml/day for 2 weeks) had no effect on post-exercise inflammation and oxidative damage but reduced mood disturbances .
In contrast, isolated chlorogenic acid (540 mg) reduced feelings of tiredness, jitteriness, and headaches, but also made people feel less content in another trial on 60 elderly people .
In mice treated with E. ulmoides extract enriched in chlorogenic acid, 7 days of treatment reduced depression-like symptoms (tail suspension test). In brain cells, the treatment preserved cell growth and structure, and increased serotonin release .
Three clinical trials (with mixed results) and some animal and cell-based research cannot be considered sufficient evidence that chlorogenic acid improves mood. Larger, more robust clinical trials are needed to shed some light on this potential use.
2) Cognitive Function
In a clinical trial on 38 healthy people, drinking a beverage with added chlorogenic acids daily for 16 weeks improved performance in some cognitive functions (motor and psychomotor speed, executive function, and shifting attention) .
In mice treated with a neurotoxic drug (scopolamine), chlorogenic acid improved short-term and working memory and reversed cognitive impairments by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase .
In mice with Alzheimer’s disease, chlorogenic acid improved spatial and working memory. Cell studies indicated a neuroprotective effect against beta-amyloid proteins – the main cause of Alzheimer’s disease .
In mice and cultured brain cells, chlorogenic acid improved the survival of brain cells containing dopamine. This suggests a potential benefit for people with neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. Indeed, chlorogenic acid prevented the toxic effects of a protein involved in this condition (alpha-synuclein) in dopamine-containing brain cells [17, 51].
Although the results are promising, most of the studies have been done in mice. Further clinical research is needed to determine if chlorogenic acid helps improve and preserve cognitive function.
3) Bacterial Infections
In a study of 45 people, gargling twice daily for 2 weeks using a green coffee bean extract mouthwash reduced the salivary concentration of a microbe that causes cavities and gum disease (Streptococcus mutans) .
In mice infected with an antibiotic-resistant “superbug” (Staphylococcus aureus), chlorogenic acid prevented the harmful effects of the bacteria and reduced bacterial number. This was caused by the inhibition of the bacterial enzyme sortase A .
Chlorogenic acid killed bacteria in test tubes by disrupting their bacterial membranes .
A single clinical trial and some animal and cell-based research cannot be considered conclusive evidence that chlorogenic acid helps with bacterial infections. More clinical trials on larger populations are required to confirm these preliminary results.
Animal and Cell Research (Lack of Evidence)
No clinical evidence supports the use of chlorogenic acid for any of the conditions listed in this section. Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based research, which should guide further investigational efforts. However, the studies should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.
Oxidative and Inflammatory Stress
Multiple rodents and cell studies showed that chlorogenic acid exhibits antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties [55, 56, 57, 58, 41, 59, 60].
The antioxidant activity may be attributed to the increased production of antioxidant proteins such as glutathione and vitamins C and E. Additionally, chlorogenic acid reduced oxidative stress by lowering the levels of oxidative proteins and reactive oxygen species [58, 41, 59].
Cell-based studies showed that chlorogenic acid may decrease cell death, prevent DNA fragmentation, and lower the levels of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS/RNOS) .
Below, we will discuss some preliminary research on chlorogenic acid’s potential anticancer effects. It’s still in the animal and cell stage and further clinical studies have yet to determine if its extract may be useful in cancer therapies.
Do not under any circumstances attempt to replace conventional cancer therapies with chlorogenic acid or any other supplements. If you want to use it as a supportive measure, talk to your doctor to avoid any unexpected interactions.
The topical application of chlorogenic acid prevented skin tumor growth in mice .
In mice fed high doses of bile acids, supplementing their diet with chlorogenic acid prevented the development of colon cancer .
In cell-based studies, chlorogenic acid reduced the growth of the following cancer types by inhibiting the pathways involved in tumor progression (AP-1, NF-kappaB, MAPK) and killed the cells by increasing the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and blocking potentially cancer-inducing proteins (ERK1/2):
Limitations and Caveats
Most of the studies examined the effects of green coffee bean extracts, which contain a number of other active molecules in addition to chlorogenic acid. The specific contribution of chlorogenic acid to the effects observed is thus difficult to speculate. Further studies using chlorogenic acid alone are needed to conclusively establish its effects.
Importantly, many studies were conducted in mice. Further studies in humans are needed to validate their preliminary results.
Although side effects have rarely been reported, many of the studies evaluated chlorogenic acid supplementation in the short term. Long-term testing is needed to assess the possible side effects.
Furthermore, a number of studies, particularly on green coffee bean extract, were sponsored by companies commercializing this product. The results are not necessarily invalid, but caution must be used when evaluating industry-funded research.
Side Effects & Precautions
This list does not cover all possible side effects. Contact your doctor or pharmacist if you notice any other side effects.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. In the US, you may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch. In Canada, you may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Allergy to green coffee bean extract, the natural source of chlorogenic acid, has been reported. Symptoms were primarily asthma attacks. However, coffee compounds other than chlorogenic acid seem to be responsible for this effect [69, 70].
Because green coffee bean extract contains caffeine, it may cause some of its unwanted effects. You may want to avoid it late in the evening to prevent sleep disturbances.
Supplement/Herb/Nutrient-drug interactions can be dangerous and, in rare cases, even life-threatening. Always consult your doctor before supplementing and let them know about all drugs and supplements you are using or considering.
Due to its potential blood pressure-lowering effect, chlorogenic acid may cause blood pressure to drop too low in people already taking medication with this effect.
Chlorogenic acid may enhance the effects of metformin, a medication used to treat high blood sugar levels. However, this effect was only observed at much higher concentrations than those achieved by human blood after chlorogenic acid consumption .
Consult your doctor if you are taking any drugs (especially blood pressure-lowering and antidiabetic drugs) before supplementing with chlorogenic acid
Because chlorogenic acid is not approved by the FDA for any condition, there is no official dose. Users and supplement manufacturers have established unofficial doses based on trial and error. Discuss with your doctor if chlorogenic acid may be useful as a complementary approach in your case and which dose you should take.
Different manufacturers produce green coffee bean supplements that may have more or less chlorogenic acid. The user-recommended dose for chlorogenic acid ranges from 240 mg to 3,000 mg per day, depending on the specific supplement.
The opinions expressed in this section are solely those of chlorogenic acid users, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. Their reviews do not represent the opinions of SelfHacked. SelfHacked does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.
Do not consider user experiences as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare providers because of something you have read on SelfHacked. We understand that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.
Users wishing to obtain the effects of chlorogenic acid didn’t usually supplement with the purified substance, but with green coffee bean extract.
The most common uses for the extract were to lose weight and to lower blood pressure. Many of the users were satisfied with the results obtained.
Most unsatisfied users complained that they didn’t notice any effects after taking the extract.
The main adverse effects reported were anxiety, rapid heartbeat, and insomnia. Note, however, that these effects are most likely due to the caffeine content of green coffee bean extract. Mild weight loss (possibly due to both caffeine and chlorogenic acid) was also reported by some users not taking chlorogenic acid for this purpose.