April 21, 2018
[06:09] About Adel Moussa
[08:45] Adel’s Daily Coffee Routine
[10:05] How Coffee Causes Heartburn
[12:45] Does the Kind of Coffee Bean Influence Caffeine Content?
[17:40] How Consuming the Right Coffee Can Maximize Glycogen and Lower Blood Glucose Effectively
[22:00] Chlorogenic Acid in Coffee
[26:05] Relationship Between Caffeine Content and Brewing Styles
[29:00] How to Increase Fatty Acids in Your Cup of Coffee
[33:49] Fisher Wallace/HealthIQ
[37:15] Does Drinking Coffee Counts as Breaking a Fast
[40:35] Melanoidins and Your Coffee
[44:30] What is an Acrylamide and How to Avoid It
[46:45] Benefits of Green Coffee
[52:00] Adel and Ben Discuss the Best Alternatives for Coffee
[1:02:38] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, it’s Ben Greenfield. If you listened to the last podcast episode, the one right before this one, you no doubt know that I am on a coffee quest, trying to find the healthiest coffee bean on the face of the planet. If you listened to the entire previous podcast episode, and if you didn’t what the heck’s wrong with you? Go to iTunes or your podcast listener device or your car’s Spotify, Pandora-thing, I mean if podcasts are on Pandora, I don’t think there are. It would be a good idea, Pandora should put podcasts on there. Go listen to my podcast with Andrew Salisbury, we talked about how I’m now drinking the organics, most pure, fresh, clean, antioxidant-rich coffee in existence. It’s called Kion Coffee, but why would I put a coffee up there and not also tell you all of the mistakes that I’ve made brewing coffee and grinding coffee and how you can actually get the most out of the coffee that you’re drinking by preparing it the right way. It was a while ago that I read this fantastic article by this guy named Adel Moussa and how to buy and roast and grind and brew the healthiest cup of coffee you’ll ever drink, so I figured heck, let’s get this dude on the podcast, talk more about coffee, why not? So today we’re gonna talk about optimizing caffeine content and healthy levels of chlorogenic acid in your brew, antioxidants, the effects of coffee on your blood lipids, whole bunch of other cool stuff so you’re gonna wanna check this one out for sure.
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Alright, we’re gonna talk about coffee and as you are listening in, remember that you can now get the same pure coffee that I’m drinking. I’ll put a link in the show notes for this show over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/coffeepodcast, but then I will also have it over at GetKion. You just go over to getkion.com and you get a 10% off of any order of coffee, 25% off when you subscribe to a bag of coffee. I’ll put all of the discount codes, everything you need over in the show notes if you want coffee for yourself as you’re listening in. Coz there’s nothing to make you crave a cup of coffee like listening to two coffee nerds talk about coffee. I can’t say coffee anymore or it’ll get annoying. Let’s go listen in to it, coffee- oops, podcast.
In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“The cancer-protective effects that scientists have observed, in some at least, of the epidemiological studies but they are related to these two components. The main advantage of green coffee is that you get the maximum amount of chlorogenic acid, coz you have all the chlorogenic acid basically that’s in the beans still available for extraction.” “You also see greater increases in blood pressure with straight caffeine or other caffeinated products compared to the coffee is that chlorogenic acid has a blood pressure lowering effect.”
Ben: Hey folks, it’s Ben Greenfield here and I hope that you are ready to take the deepest dive that you may have ever taken into the art of preparing the perfect cup of coffee, including optimizing things like the caffeine content, the amount of healthy levels of what’s called chlorogenic acid in your brew, antioxidants, effect on blood lipids, a whole lot more. My guest on today’s show is Adel Moussa, and he recently investigated the impressive host of coffee data that he came up with after dozens of hours he spent on Google Scholar and on PubMed for this very cool website that he has called SuppVersity. And he discovered some really, really interesting coffee tips that you’re gonna discover today. And Adel himself, he is a physicist, I believe a trained physicist, and his blog is actually really good. He has like thousands of fully referenced articles and it’s one of my go to sources for really good, well-reference, unbiased information about the latest, most relevant studies in the realm of diet and health and fitness and a whole lot more. He also works as a reviewer for my other favorite sources, the Examine Research Digest, which is really great resource for also discovering new studies in a very unbiased, well-researched format. So the dude knows his stuff and of course you’re a physicist so you have to be smart, right Adel?
Adel: [laughs] People always say so that physicists are really smart. I think that it may be true that you have to be good in math but some people are only good in math and that’s actually one of my weaknesses or one of the things I’ve been struggling with during my studies. So I’m not sure if I’m really smart or just effective.
Ben: Yeah, but you know like how fast something is going to hit the ground after you drop it off of a building or the equation for it?
Adel: Yeah, that’s easy enough.
Ben: Yeah, when the two cars are coming at each other, one’s coming from Florida and the other’s coming from California, where are they gonna meet? I’m sure you would be pretty good at that one too.
Adel: I guess.
Ben: But of course the million dollar question is the coffee question, and before we jump into some of the things you found about preparing the perfect cup of coffee and also making sure that it is either as healthy or as wakefulness-promoting for you as possible, I’m curious, do you drink coffee and if so what does your morning coffee routine actually look like?
Adel: Well, obviously I drink coffee, not necessarily for the health benefits. That’s just more or less the side-effect I really appreciate, but I simply like the taste of it. And I usually start my day with a coffeepot breakfast, and another one later somewhere in the AM or while I’m at work, and usually two coffee before workout, unless I’m going to work out later in the PM so then I will skip the caffeine because it really makes it difficult for me to fall asleep, Ben.
Ben: So how do you actually prepare your coffee? Walk me through the yard, take your time.
Adel: [laughs] You might be laughing but I’m usually using one of the classic coffee makers, the machines that filter, because I’ve personally had a problem if there is too much acid in the coffee, I tend to get a heartburn, and using the filter takes out some of the components that precipitate to getting heartburn, and that’s the main reason I’m using classic filter coffee.
Ben: So what is it that causes heartburn for people and coffee? What’s the actual acid?
Adel: Uhmm, that’s not 100% clear but unfortunately, one of the things that is really notorious causing that is actually chlorogenic acid. So I already gave it away, yes I’m actually accepting that I’m losing some of the beneficial antioxidants in the filter, but it’s the best way for me to get along without having to take TGIs or whatever…
Ben: Now that’s one of the reasons that, when I use the AeroPress, which is one method of coffee preparation that I’ll use and I like. I use their little stainless steel filter, and I also like to use French press, and my wife uses the paper filter, but I don’t use the paper even though we have a really nice coffee maker called the Wilfa, and it just makes this super silky smooth coffee. It’s a paper filter, and the reason I don’t use it is because it filters out a lot of this phytochemical called chlorogenic acid. And correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that one of the more beneficial components of coffee in terms of the ability to reduce blood sugar levels and have almost like an anti-diabetic effect and even potentially like fat loss or lipid burning type of effect?
Adel: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. So we don’t really know how all the different components in coffee work together, but it appears that chlorogenic acid is one of the most important ingredients next to caffeine. And so the good thing is that the filter doesn’t take out all of this, all of the chlorogenic acid, but it does reduce the levels significantly. So you have to make compromise as they say. On the other hand, choosing a certain blend or a certain brand also of coffee will make a huge difference as well. So it is well possible that my coffee has gone through the process still contains more chlorogenic acid just as simply or invest to a better brand.
Ben: Okay, got it. I wanna ask you a few questions, just while we’re on the chlorogenic acid bandwagon, and I know we’ll talk about some of the other beneficial things in coffee as well. But first of all, if you did wanna maximize the chlorogenic acid levels, let’s say you wanted all the benefits on the blood sugar and on the fat burning when it comes to what chlorogenic acid can do from that standpoint. Are there things that you could either combine the coffee with or ways that you could prepare the coffee, whether it’s temperature or otherwise, or methods of choosing your beans that would allow you to maximize the chlorogenic acid?
Adel: Well, as I pointed out before, you probably would be best off by starting to get the right blend of coffee beans. So basically most coffees are a mix of robusta and arabica beans, and if you are familiar with buying coffee, you will have noticed that the arabica blends, blends that have more arabica than robusta, are the expensive ones. That’s because unlike the robusta where the name already gives it away, arabica is rather difficult to produce and therefore it’s more expensive. It also tastes milder usually than the robusta although there are differences according to regions obviously, but the robusta contains more chlorogenic acid. While I was doing the research, I found conflicting data on that but the majority of studies that compared the two found that robusta has the higher chlorogenic acid content.
Ben: Robusta has more chlorogenic acid in it?
Adel: Exactly. You would have to have that bit more bitter coffee in order to get the most out of it. And back in the day when the thing about weight loss surfaced, you mentioned that before, I think that was probably five years ago or so at least. There were a couple of human studies which suggested that it can really, really help weight loss, and that spiked the interest of many people in green coffee. So, because during the roasting process, a lot of chlorogenic acid is actually lost, so you are best off to buy a blend that is high in robusta and then to buy [0:14:51] ______ or to consume straight raw coffee that hasn’t been roasted at all, coz that’s what contains the most chlorogenic acid in its original form.
Ben: Interesting, now these robusta beans, from what I understand, they’re cheaper to grow and one of the reasons for that is because there’re more disease and insect resistant compared to arabica. And I think that part of that is because caffeine acts as a natural insecticide and antimicrobial agent, so when you’re selecting for higher chlorogenic acid and if you decided you’re gonna drink one of these more bitter, robusta beans, you’re also going to get more caffeine, right?
Adel: Yeah, usually say about two times more but that also depends on where and how the coffee was grown. But in general, you are selecting coffee that’s high in caffeine as well. The interesting thing however, is that for maximizing the caffeine content, you actually have to aim for a medium roast, not a mild roast. So then, you will have to decide what’s more important for you, or you can increase the caffeine and probably also the chlorogenic acid content by mowing it finer. So if you very fine powder, you will be able to extract much more caffeine from it than from a coarse one.
Ben: Okay so just to clarify. You’re saying that the lighter roast and a finer grind would result in a higher amount of caffeine?
Adel: Uhh, the medium roast would be the best for the highest caffeine content.
Ben: A medium. So more is not better? A dark roast would not have more caffeine than a medium roast?
Adel: No, interestingly not. So it didn’t look quite clear how a brew’s chemical makeup changes, so we don’t know if the caffeine’s lost during the process or if there’s simply less caffeine ending up in the brew. But in general, the grinding product obviously increases the surface area of the coffee and that always helps with the extraction.
Ben: Okay, got it. Now just return to chlorogenic acid before we shift to caffeine, some of the interesting things that I learned about chlorogenic acid from your articles and other research I’ve done on coffee is that it can stimulate these GLUT4 transporters, which are responsible for stimulating the uptake of glucose into, for example, muscles. And this got me thinking, and I know that’s one of the ways it can lower blood sugar so dramatically, would doing a chlorogenic acid-rich coffee, like either robusta bean or a bean that had perhaps been medium roasted or something that hadn’t been filtered through a paper filter, be something that if consumed post-workout, along with a carbohydrate, could for example allow you to more rapidly replenish your glycogen levels?
Adel: Yeah, there’s actually a study that shows just that. So the post-workout coffee is something that makes complete sense, especially if you try to maximize the chlorogenic acid content. You will see a faster replenishment of the glycogen stores which it appears to increase, and also to specifically increase the uptake of glucose by the muscle tissue. That’s something that makes it quite interesting to at least dabble with, and coffee after the workout as well. Maybe not the highest dosage but there is a study that actually confirms your hypothesis.
Ben: The other thing that I was thinking about when it comes to stacking certain things with coffee, there’s this idea behind cold thermogenesis, like cold soaks and cold baths and cold showers to enhance fat loss. That’s one reason people would do that, to increase their conversion of adipose tissue into metabolically active adipose tissue, like brown adipose tissue. And from what I understand, this same chlorogenic acid, if you’re choosing your coffee to maximize chlorogenic acid, can actually act as what’s called a PPAR agonist, increasing the potential for proliferation of these new brown adipose tissue cells, so would that be another strategy or have you run into any research on that strategy, like having a cup of coffee before doing a cold shower or a cold bath in the morning to maximize the ability to convert white into brown adipose tissue?
Adel: Umm, I know that there are studies in rodents that show that this is quite successful. The only problem I see is that rodents are not a very good model for human beings when it comes to brown adipose tissue coz they have much more than we do and they are also much more prone to develop it. Humans actually are born with a significant amount, at least most of us, but many of us are going to lose most of it during our lifetime, and it really depends obviously on genetics whether or not you are somebody who’s going to bulk more brown fat again. But I think it’s at least worth a try, not going to hurt, and if it’s not the chlorogenic acid, it’s the caffeine that’s going to help you liberate fatty acids from the stores. And that would also make sense before you jump into the cold shower, for example.
Ben: Did you find anything else out about chlorogenic acid when you were researching it for these articles you wrote on coffee?
Adel: Well, it also seems to be involved in the beneficial effect coffee had on the liver. So this could be directly or indirectly related to the beneficial effect on glucose metabolism because we know that nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which is really a plague these days, is closely related to type-2 diabetes so I think there is a link that is quite obvious and there is a significant voucher that really shows that people who drink coffee have a lower rate of liver problems than people who don’t. So this could be one of the reasons, but again I think that it’s probably a blend of many of the different [inaudible] that really makes the difference here. So caffeine is really important there, and there are also other antioxidant complements in coffee that may be responsible for that.
Ben: That’s fascinating. What I really like, and I’ll link to this, by the way for those of you listening in, I’ll link to some of Adel’s articles in the show notes along with some of the things we talk about. You just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/coffeepodcast and I’ll link to what I’m about to bring up and that is this fascinating graph that you have in the article showing that chlorogenic acid content of different types of coffees, and for example Little Italy was really high and chapter one was really high, costa was really high, Starbucks was super low. Where’d you come across this chart, was this something that was done in a research study?
Adel: Yeah, it was part of a study from 2012 and basically they wanted to determine the chlorogenic acid content in commercially available coffee that you could buy in… simply go get coffee at the coffee shop, and they have a couple of well-known and less well-known coffee shops. Starbucks is on the list and it’s interestingly not, not very high in chlorogenic acid, which could be a sign that they use the expensive arabica blend…
Ben: Well they also roast their coffees quite a bit, right, which would decrease chlorogenic acid content.
Adel: Yeah, true. So that could be a mix, could also be a different processing technique and we have to be honest, it could be possible that if you went there on another day, you might get different results.
Adel: So, they didn’t retest but batch to batch there will be differences, but even though I have to admit that this is a really big difference, like tenfold. It is probably not just coincidence.
Ben: Okay, got it. Now, when it comes to chlorogenic acid, the one last thing I wanted to ask you about was I know that caffeine, we know that we see blood pressure spikes when someone drinks caffeine. And from what I understand, chlorogenic acid actually has what’s called an antihypertensive effect and I guess a pretty potent antihypertensive effect. So if you wanted to avoid some of the blood pressure increasing properties of coffee, if you were concerned about that, you would indeed want to choose a coffee that had been less roasted so it had less caffeine in it and a robusta bean so you’re getting low caffeine and high chlorogenic acid content?
Adel: Well, you would compromise the low caffeine if you take a robusta blend because unfortunately it’s also high in caffeine…
Adel: So it’s not just high in chlorogenic acid but also high in caffeine. If it’s lightly roasted, you will at least not get as much caffeine out of it as you would do with a medium roast.
Adel: So that would work, and I think that you are right that part of the reason why you also see greater increases in blood pressure with straight caffeine or other caffeinated products compared to the coffee is that chlorogenic acid has a blood pressure lowering effect.
Ben: Yeah, I mean well there’s a lot of health benefits to coffee that we probably don’t even have time to get into today, but I did interview… it was a very interesting interview, it was called 63 cups of coffee a day based off this philosopher named Voltaire, who purportedly drank 63 cups of coffee a day. It was with Deepak Chopra’s brother who was a physician, I believe at Harvard and we really delved into drinking a lot of coffee, so those of you who want to delve even more deeply into the health benefits of coffee that go beyond just say, the chlorogenic acid, definitely go listen to that one on 63 cups of coffee and I’ll link to that.
The next question that I wanted to ask you Adel, before we turn to some other components that people might not know about in coffee like diterpenes and melanoidins is this idea behind caffeine. We talked about how a robusta bean is gonna have amounts of caffeine, and we talked about how the darker the roast is, the less caffeine content you’re gonna get, but is there anything else that one could do to either decrease or increase the amount of caffeine in the coffee that they drink?
Adel: Well, if you want to get the most out of it, you choose the right beans like robusta and you grind it finely in order to make the extraction process more efficient, and then you don’t use a filter but rather an automatic machine, you would use an espresso so one of those classic devices that you would still see around. And they are also very cheap compared to the high-tech equipment that you buy today. Those usually have a much higher caffeine content, and the difference is actually quite significant. If you compare that to one of the filter machines, even those which don’t have a paper filter but rather a metal filter, you will find that there’s an almost effect of four difference, even if you use the same beans. So the machine…
Ben: There’s an effect of four, so four times greater caffeine if you don’t use a paper filter?
Adel: Yes, exactly. If you don’t use any kind of filter and simply produce regular espresso with one of the manual or semi-automatic, as they often call it, machines.
Ben: Okay, cool. What about, one thing I guess I will back up here just slightly, decaffeinated coffee, when we’re drinking that, does that have any chlorogenic acid in it at all?
Adel: Yeah, it does. Actually, it is not really removed. There is some chlorogenic acid that’s lost during the processing but you also often have different beans, so maybe the beans don’t contain as much chlorogenic acid to begin with, but you’re not gonna lose that if you have issues with caffeine or want to drink another coffee late in the day and can’t fall asleep if you do it with caffeine.
Ben: Okay, so grind very fine, don’t use a paper filter, and choose more of a robusta bean if you just want coffee to make smoke come out your ears and you want as much caffeine as possible, but you might also get a little bit of a heartburn effect because you’re gonna get really high amounts of chlorogenic acid as well compared to if you had used a paper filter and if you had chosen more of like a medium roast?
Adel: [laughs] Correct. The caffeine is going to contribute to the gut issues as well.
Ben: Okay, gotcha. I guess I said medium roast but even a darker roast would have even less of the chlorogenic acid… or a darker roast have less of the caffeine in it?
Adel: Uhh, both of it actually.
Adel: But the reduction in chlorogenic acid is more significant in the dark roast.
Ben: Okay, that’s right. Okay, got it. Now there are also fatty acids in coffee. You’ll hear… folks like Dave Asprey will talk about this, I’ve mentioned it before in the show about how when you blend butter with coffee, you’re taking a lot of these psychoactive compounds that aren’t the same as caffeine like kahweol and cafestol and some of these other things, and you’re making those a little bit more soluble, able to cross the blood brain barrier, able to spark a little bit more of a cognitive boosting effect. And from what I understand, those are specifically, they’d be categorized as fatty acids in the coffee, is that correct?
Adel: Well, they are not fatty acids themselves, but they are associated with the oil extraction that is in the coffee. I think that’s also beyond the theory that if you add extra fat, they are going to mingle with that and be better absorbed. I haven’t seen any research that confirms that, but I’ve been looking for it very closely. So it’s possible that there are studies that involve this notion, and it’s quite clear that they are associated with the oil part, so you can produce an oil from coffee and very high concentrations of these diterpene.
Ben: Okay, so let’s say that we weren’t concerned about increased cholesterol levels and we didn’t believe in the whole heart-health-cholesterol hypothesis unless you have something like familial hypercholesteremia or unless you have rampant levels of inflammation or high blood glucose or something else that might cause that cholesterol to become oxidized. Let’s say we actually wanted to maximize the fatty acid content of the coffee that we’re drinking or we wanted to maximize the presence of those kahweols, those cafestols, and we didn’t necessarily want to add a whole bunch of things like butter or coconut oil for example, not that I have anything against that, but let’s say we didn’t wanna do that. Are there ways that you can enhance the lipid fraction of coffee without necessarily adding extra fats to the coffee?
Adel: Yeah that’s mostly a function of how you prepare it. Again you have to go for an espresso, classic one, and you can actually alter taste and see that there is more… the fatty acids, they are not just giving you the diterpenes but they are also, at the same time, adding to the taste and the mouth-feel of coffee. So basically, the more filtering it, there is more of the fatty acid and thus less of the related diterpenes you’re going to get. So if you compare that, that’s 100mg of espresso and only 7mg of total fatty acids for a filtered cup of coffee.
Ben: But at the same time, the espresso has less caffeine in it, right?
Adel: Interestingly enough, it does, yes. So the espresso has a high content of caffeine but usually you don’t have the same size, so if you have the regular cup size for coffee and espresso, the espresso doesn’t give you as much caffeine as the regular cup will do.
Ben: Okay, got it. So if you wanted to maximize the amount of these diterpenes like cafestol and kahweol, we’re getting a lot of fatty acids out of the coffee and you didn’t want a lot of the caffeine, you could go with espresso. But if you wanted both the caffeine and then also all of these potentially beneficial fatty acids, you would simply want to, very similar to the strategy for chlorogenic acid, just basically not use a paper filter and choose some other filtration method like say a French press?
Adel: Yep, exactly, that would be the ideal strategy. And that’s not just because you might be concerned about your brain, it’s also that these cafestol and kahweol, they have also been linked to some of the antioxidant effects and if they are applied on the petri dish, so I know that’s not exactly telling you what’s going to happen in your body, but at least the studies that did that, they showed that it can actually help make cancer cells more vulnerable to your body’s own defenses and also chemotherapy. So it is possible that the cancer-protective effects that scientists have observed, in some at least, of the epidemiological studies but they are related to these two components. So I really have to support what you said before, unless you have a genetic issue with cholesterol, this wouldn’t be a reason to use the filter.
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Ben: Now what about the grind? Is there any difference when we look at fatty acid content with a fine grind versus a rough grind?
Adel: I have to admit that I didn’t find studies that specifically looked at that, but in general, this is a physics effect so if you increase the surface area, you will always get more out of the extraction, so I would expect that you will also get more of the fatty acid and thus the other beneficial associate molecules if you have finer grind.
Ben: Boom, you’ve officially used your physics degree. Good job.
Adel: Yes. [laughs]
Ben: Yeah [laughs], that finally came in handy for you. Okay so these things, they’re also called diterpenes, correct, these fatty acids?
Adel: Yeah, correct.
Ben: Okay, and are there any other in addition to cafestol and kahweol, any other beneficial diterpenes you think we should know about?
Adel: Well, in the context of coffee, those are the only two we know for sure. And they are the ones that have been well researched because they have been linked to cholesterol and you know that is the research area that has been dabbled with for 25 years or 50 years, I don’t know how long. But it is possible that there are other molecules but we don’t know them very well.
Ben: Yeah, and related to this cholesterol and fatty issue, it’s very interesting because I’m asked often, I know many people who do intermittent fasting and whether or not coffee technically breaks your fast. And from what I understand, while the caloric contribution of these fatty acids is very low and they’re not going to spike insulin of course so you don’t have to worry about that, it’s very interesting. There’s a guy named Dr. Satchin Panda, and I don’t know if you’re familiar with him or his research, I was just speaking with him in Iceland, and I asked him about this because he was literally giving a presentation on the circadian clock, and he said that he felt that having a cup of coffee in the morning, because anything that you consume, from supplements to coffee, could potentially cause an increase in incretin hormones in the gut, or could potentially, from a very simple standpoint, send a message to your brain that the clock has started on your window for eating or what he calls your “non-time restricted urge” or your “time-restricted feeding window.” He says that a cup of coffee is technically breaking a fast, what do you think about that?
Adel: Well I’m not quite sure about that, also because a cup of coffee has also been shown to actually increase AMP kinase so that would be the molecule that is increased when you’re fasting and it’s also partly responsible for the beneficial effects, so I wouldn’t be too concerned about that. I wouldn’t chug on my coffee heavily so…
Ben: Oh yeah.
Adel: That won’t be a problem, but also if you want to… if you discuss fasting, you often also get the issue of is it going to get better to keep me out of ketosis, and that’s something that’s not going to happen. Actually there’s an interesting study that has been published about a year ago I guess, which showed that if you consume a coffee with your breakfast, you’re going to get into ketosis faster. So I doubt that it is really a problem. On the other hand, it is possible that there are other mechanisms other than the nutrient content that will reset the biological clock and thus actually [0:39:21] ______ some of the effects you want to create by fasting.
Ben: Yeah, I agree. And just from a total n=1 standpoint and also a strategy I’ll use quite often with my clients who are trying to lose weight quickly, that combination of a cup of morning coffee or a cup of green tea combined with a little bit of cold thermogenesis and even some fasted aerobic activity like an easy walk in the sunshine, that seems to work like gangbusters for fat loss. And so I would never really worry about coffee unless you put a lot of, especially insulin-spiking compounds in it like sugar, etcetera, or even a lot of calories that are going to be calories you have to burn before you tap into your own body fat, which is why again, like I’m not opposed to this concept of Bulletproof coffee for example, however it’s calories. And so what I found is that a basic black cup of coffee in the morning, maybe save your Bulletproof coffee for later on in the morning, combined with some cold and some fasting seem to really move the dial for fat loss.
Adel: Yeah, it also helps the appetite, so it helps to control them.
Ben: Absolutely, a little bit of an appetite suppressing effect, yeah. What about, there’s a compound that I noticed that you talked about in some of your research called melanoidins. What are those and what are those have to do with coffee?
Adel: Well, they are one of the other well-known components of coffee and they are produced or they are Maillard products, meaning they are the result of the reaction between sugars and amino acids that takes place if you heat them significantly. And this already tells you that they raised during the roasting process and they have also been formed individually to have antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and antihypertensive effects. So they are very interesting from the perspective of trying to figure out all the different molecules in coffee actually act together and how they produce the health effect we have been discussing in the previous podcast. So we shouldn’t really disregard them, on the other hand it’s difficult to say how much of the overall effect of coffee actually is due to them. They also probably figure in the taste because the whole roasting process is generating many of these byproducts, and it’s not just for coffee but also the other foods we heat, that they derive a lot of their taste from the chemical reactions that occur once you’re actually producing the food with decent amount of heat.
Ben: Is there a way to actually increase the amount of melanoidins in a cup of coffee?
Adel: Yeah, again the medium roast, the heavy medium appears to be the best. I would expect that after some heavy roasting, you will see the destruction of the melanoidins so that the best one is the medium roast, the second best one is still the dark roast, and the less roasting you have, the fewer of the melanoidins you are going to have.
Ben: Yeah, so far the message I’m getting over and over again is that a medium roast would be best and if you can handle the taste, even going with a little bit more of a robusta type of bean versus an arabica blend could be better.
Ben: If the taste is less of an issue to you than the actual health effect.
Adel: Yep, exactly. Or you will have to try and find a robusta that is not that bitter, although you run the risk that it doesn’t contain as much caffeine because caffeine is also bitter, so it will probably contribute to the taste.
Ben: Yeah, that makes sense. Well if you’re listening in, go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/coffeepodcast if you have found a really good tasting robusta bean. Now when we talk about this concept of roasting, my dad was a gourmet coffee roaster when I was growing up, which is probably know more than know about some other things when it comes to coffee. I used to wake up as a little boy and the very first smell that I would smell would be green coffee beans roasting outside as dad would receive all these burlap sacks full of bags from Costa Rica and Guatemala and Tanzania. And it was kinda cool to be able to wander out there. It’s probably why I likely gave myself what would be close to adrenal fatigue at 13 years old by sucking down 20 shots of espresso a day.
Ben: I just thought espresso was kinda like water at that point coz everybody would come over to our house and drink amazing coffees from these amazing Italian espresso machines that were just scattered all over the place coz my dad repaired espresso machines too. But one thing that I heard about was this concept of acrylamide, and that roasting affects acrylamide. What is acrylamide, why should people care about it, and what does roasting do to it?
Adel: Well basically it’s a product of roasting. So there is very little acrylamide in non-roasted cup of coffee beans, but during the roasting process, the acrylamide is formed from the combination of the little fructose and glucose and the reducing sugars that is in there and amino acid that’s called asparagine. And we don’t really know how much you could taste, but it’s probably around 120 degrees Celsius that are needed in order to get the energy that is necessary for this reaction to occur. And you would have more acrylamide in darker roasts than you will have in lighter and very little if you use green coffee beans. So if you want to minimize that, you would have to choose one of the lighter roasts, but actually the amount that you are facing from a real cup of coffee is very small, so for the article of major calculation, you would probably have to consume 20 liters of coffee to get to what’s still safe human amount of consumption. So this is the least of your problems, I would say.
Ben: Okay, so acrylamide could potentially be a carcinogenic compound that we would find in coffee, but you would have to be drinking more than 20 liters of coffee a day.
Ben: Like, a lot from what I got out of research study?
Adel: Yeah, I would assume that the caffeine is going to kill you before the acrylamide can actually cause cancer. [laughs]
Ben: And once again the medium roast appears to give the lowest amounts of acrylamides, so we see again that medium’s kinda the way to go.
Adel: No, it would be best to go with the unroasted green beans because they…
Ben: Oh, just totally… well yeah.
Adel: … have no acrylamides.
Ben: That’s actually something I wanted to ask you about, coz a lot of people do the completely unroasted. But when it comes to green coffee, what are the benefits that we get from that in addition to very, very low acrylamide levels that we don’t get from a roasted coffee?
Adel: Well as I pointed out before, the whole idea of using green coffee became popular when the research on chlorogenic acid appeared on the scene and people thought that they can consume green coffee and lose weight. So the main advantage, at least that’s what we believe these days, the main advantage of green coffee is that you get the maximum amount of chlorogenic acid, coz you have all the chlorogenic acid basically that’s in the beans still available for extraction. You don’t necessarily get all of it out of the coffee, but you at least haven’t lost some during the processing. And while some people also like it for the taste, I personally don’t think that it’s better than regular coffee as far as the taste goes, but you know that it’s different and that’s why I’ve also not discussed the taste in my work because I think that everybody has to decide for him or herself what he likes best. There are two problems, though. One is related to the digestive tract, I’ve already hinted it before so if you are somebody who is dabbling with heartburn, then using green coffee’s probably not the best idea because it actually increasing the stomach acid production. Could be used for your gut if you have low stomach acid, but for many of us it’s probably a bit problematic. And another thing is the roasting kills most of the mold that you find on coffee beans from time to time, and the mold will produce toxins and the toxins will put your kidneys at risk of being harmed. And so you will have to, I believe, take a closer look at your coffee beans before you prepare your coffee in order to… if you can actually see that there is mold, you better throw them away, or you will have to buy coffee where you have the certificate that it has been tested for mold.
Ben: So if you’re gonna drink green coffee, you’d want to really double check the whole mold/fungus issue to make sure that there’s not any of that in there because it’s gonna have the greatest potential due to the fact that it hasn’t been roasted.
Adel: Yeah, exactly. It is probably not that much of a risk, I personally would still try to avoid the mycotoxins you could get, so the toxins from the mold, and really make sure that you get a good unroasted coffee, one that was stored dry enough in order to avoid mold.
Ben: Okay, got it. Now what about, I mean one thing obviously, we sound like a bunch of scientists talking about coffee but some people just want their cup of Joe to taste good. And so when it comes to a tasty cup of coffee, what would you do if you just wanted to maximize overall flavor?
Adel: Well, it depends. Some people will say that they like the intense taste of the robusta but in general people tend to like the arabica because it has an almost sweet flavor to it and it’s milder. So you probably have to go for a pure or high arabica blend, and then you will have to decide if you want the maximum amount or concentration of ingredients, you will probably also choose a fine grind again. If on the other hand you like lighter coffee, you will probably use a more coarse grind in order to reduce the amount of the ingredients you extract while preparing coffee. And quite obviously, you can change all that by dosing differently, so the ratio of coffee to water is quite obviously important.
Ben: Okay, got it. Now there are also things you can combine with coffee. For me, I’ll sometimes put a really nice organic butterscotch toffee stevia. I use this one made by a company called Omica, it’s like a super flavorful stevia that I’ll put into a cup of coffee or sometimes I’ll even put it into sparkling water to make like a butterscotch-tasting soda. And there’s lots of other things that people will sometimes not put in the coffee use as a coffee alternative, right? Like green tea or black tea or you know, everybody’s talking about mushroom tea these days and there’re even people who don’t drink coffee who will do blends of different fibers and roots. Like I know this one called Teeccino, there’s another one called DandyTea, these things that supposedly don’t stimulate the adrenals in the same way. Do you or have you ever looked into many of the alternatives to coffee out there and do you have any recommendations for people on any of the alternatives that you like?
Adel: Well I personally like black tea best of the alternatives, not necessarily because it’s the most healthy one but rather because that it tastes good, at least for my palate. If you look at the research there is more than enough evidence that it’s also healthy, not just the green tea is healthy but also the black tea even though I have to admit that the research on green tea is more conclusive as far as the health effects are concerned. I must admit that I personally don’t… it’s not just that I don’t really like the taste of green tea also, but I don’t really feel well after doing it.
Adel: Interestingly enough, I’m drinking relatively a high amount of coffee and I’ve been using fewer drug products before that contained a lot of caffeine so I’m pretty [0:52:53] ______ tolerant but with green tea I’m getting an effect that really feels as if my blood pressure was increasing. And I tested for that and interestingly enough it does that even though coffee doesn’t. So I’m not quite sure what’s going on here but I have to avoid products that contain green tea extract. Maybe there is a genetic component, I’m not quite sure. But I…
Ben: Yeah. From what I understand it’s the extremely high amount of polyphenols in the green tea can actually cause a little bit of a stomach upset. I dunno if it’s a little bit of a hormetic response to the very, very large amount of polyphenols and flavonols too that you’ll find in the green tea. The other thing that I’ve wondered is that green tea has this umami, like a really good green tea has this amino acid umami-type of flavor, and a lot of people don’t do well with just the taste of umami, right, who aren’t used to Asian foods, things like that.
Ben: So it might be a few different things going on, it’s kinda interesting.
Adel: You also have to know that there are a couple of relatively new studies that seems to suggest that not necessarily drinking green tea which rather appears to be beneficial for the liver, but rather using high amounts of the extract, especially those that are high in ECGC, the main antioxidant you are usually looking for in green tea, that they pose a risk for the liver. So there are both studies in humans and rodents that suggest that at a very high dose, that you would only be getting from supplement, that can be a problem. And if you want to avoid that, a very good alternative is actually cacao. So you would have to not buy the one from the supermarket that is mostly sugar, but rather real, organic cacao powder that you can use to create cacao, and I personally like that. You can sweeten it with stevia, and it has a great taste to it. It tastes different quite obviously from the sugary brew that you can buy at the supermarket, the powder that is colored brown but otherwise is similar to actual cacao beans. But the interesting thing is that it will also contain caffeine and theobromine which has a nice stimulant effect, at least if you are not a regular consumer of coffee, and it has a lot of beneficial health effects that are similar to those that are associated with the consumption of coffee.
Ben: Very interesting. Yeah, I personally am on a green tea kick right now. Ironically I haven’t had coffee in 10 days at the time that you and I are chatting. And my overall impression is that while I don’t get nauseous from the green tea and I drink really good stuff. One of my clients is a chef, he’s like a Japanese-French cuisine chef in New York City, so he goes to Japan every year and he harvests these bags in Japan that are like $200 a bag.
Ben: These amazing… and you can friggin’ eat the leaves and be happy without even brewing it. It’s amazing green tea, but you know what, dude? I still freaking crave my cup of coffee coz there’s just something like, it’s almost like comfort food for me, right? Like peanut butter and jelly, and turkey with cranberry, and the old Kraft macaroni and cheese I used to make while at home as a kid. There’s some of those tastes that I think just take a long time to get rid of when it comes to craving the comfort aspects.
By the way, I should note that I looked up the DandyTea that I talked about, and the Teeccino, and both of those are primarily… well the Dandy one is just roasted barley and rye and chicory root with dandelion root and beet root. And then the other one, the Teeccino, also it’s carob, it’s kinda similar to the cacao you talked about, and then barley, chicory, and some kind of a natural coffee flavor, whatever that is that they add to it. So those are more herbal blends, so there’s a lot of alternatives out there but I dunno what you think about this, Adel. But my experiences, nothing replaces a good old cup of Joe when it comes to that nice coffee flavor some of us crave in the morning.
Adel: I totally agree. For me, black tea is also not real alternative, it is replacement if I can’t buy the coffee. But otherwise I would always go for coffee.
Ben: Yeah, 100% agree. Well this was an amazing article that you wrote, and I’m gonna link to it in the show notes over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/coffeepodcast. I’ll also link to some of these coffee alternatives that I talked about in the show along with linking to my own favorite brand of coffee that I personally drink, I’ll toss it in there as a little mystery for you if you wanna check it out. It is an arabica, but it’s amazing, amazing, pure coffee, I’ll put that one in there, along with Dr. Satchin Panda’s research on time-restricted feeding, my interview with Sanjiv Chopra of Harvard about Voltaire who drank 63 cups of coffee a day and all the other cool things that coffee can do for you. And also, I’ll link to Adel’s website and also to the Examine Research Digest that he writes for, which is another fantastic resource for all things health and science related when it comes to fitness and wellness and nutrition. So that’s all over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/coffeepodcast. And in the meantime, Adel, thanks so much for coming on the show and sharing all this stuff with us. It’s nice to know that there are other people out there just as obsessed as I am with drinking a great cup of coffee.
Adel: Yeah, it was a great chance for me too. Maybe some of the listeners have learned something new and that’s actually the reason why I started to write the blog, so I would be happy if that’s the case and if you can take away something from the podcast.
Ben: Yeah. If anything, people learned that there’s a lot more to coffee than first meets the eye so you’ve got all sorts of things to experiment right now. Robusta, arabica, light, medium, dark, alternatives, you name it. So Adel, thanks for coming on the show, and for those of you listening in, I’m Ben Greenfield and Adel Moussa of SuppVersity, signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have an amazing week.
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Prepare to take the deepest dive you ever have into the art of preparing the perfect cup of coffee…
…including optimizing criteria such as the caffeine content, the amount of healthy chlorogenic acid in the brew, the antioxidants, the effect on blood lipids and much more.
My guest on today’s podcast, Adel Moussa, recently investigated the impressive host of coffee data he came up with after dozens of hours he spent on Google Scholar and PubMed. And he indeed found some very, very interesting coffee tips you’re about to discover in today’s podcast.
As a trained physicist Adel, found his passion for nutrition and exercise science early during his studies when the lack of reliable, evidence-based information about supplements and training on the internet motivated him to start blogging about these topics. Over the years, his blog, http://www.suppversity.com/, has accumulated more than 2300 fully-referenced articles and became one of the go-to sources for well-referenced, unbiased information about the latest and most relevant studies in the realms of diet, health, and fitness.
In spite of that, the work Adel puts into the maintenance of the website, and the Facebook news-channel (facebook.com/SuppVersity), as well as his work as a reviewer for the “Examine Research Digest”, are still a hobby for him – one that does, however, leave enough time to hit the gym several times a week.
And remember…-You can grab your first bag of the brand new Kion Coffee now by clicking here. Use code BENCOFFEE to get 10% off your Kion Coffee order and – better yet – 25% off your order when you subscribe for monthly delivery. During our discussion, you’ll discover:
-If Adel drinks coffee, and if so, what his daily coffee routine like…[8:45]
-Why coffee can cause heartburn and what you can do about it…[10:05]
-The fascinating relationship between bean type and caffeine content…[12:45]
-How you can maximize glycogen stores and lower blood glucose by choosing your coffee wisely…[17:40]
-What chlorogenic acid is, and how can we maximize it in the coffee we drink…[22:00]
-How you can maximize or minimize caffeine content based on your brewing methods…[26:05]
-How you can increase the amount of fatty acids and brain-boosting compounds in the coffee you drink…[29:00]
-Whether coffee actually “breaks your fast”…[37:15]
-How “melanoidins” can actually increase the health of your coffee, and how to maximize them…[40:35]
-Why you need to be careful with a compound called “acrylamide”, and what you can do about it…[44:30]
-The benefits you get from green coffee that you don’t get from other roasted coffees…[46:45]
-What Adel thinks are the tastiest or best coffee alternatives, such as green tea, black tea, mushroom tea, etc…[52:00]
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
-You can grab your first bag of Kion Coffee now by clicking here. Use code BENCOFFEE to get 10% off your Kion Coffee order and – better yet – 25% off your order when you subscribe for monthly delivery.
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