You are probably quite familiar with coffee beans (who isn’t?!)… but have you heard about coffee berry? Recent research has suggested that consuming coffee berry can elicit multiple potential health benefits. This article will break down everything you need to know about coffee berry and the potential coffee berry benefits for health.
What is coffee berry/coffee fruit?
Coffee berry (aka coffee fruit or coffee cherry) is a small, green (unripe) to reddish-purple (ripe) stone fruit produced by the same plant as the coffee bean: the coffee tree. In fact, coffee beans can actually be found inside the pit of the coffee fruit, and are technically considered to be seeds. During processing, the coffee beans are removed from the pit and the coffee fruit itself is usually discarded.
Now that research is suggesting that there are many potential health benefits of consuming coffee berry, the fruit is being utilized more and more. This is great because this practice both minimizes food waste and allows for the consumer to reap the coffee berry benefits for health.
Potential health benefits of coffee berry
Emerging research has suggested that coffee berry can help improve antioxidant levels, lower blood sugar, improve cardiovascular health, promote fat loss, and improve brain health.
Let’s break down each of these potential coffee berry benefits for health:
Rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that can prevent or reduce cell damage within the body, potentially leading to reduced risk of developing chronic conditions. A massive benefit of consuming a diet high in antioxidants is a reduced risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. If you already have one of these chronic conditions, the antioxidants in coffee cherry may help slow the progression and help you heal.
Since coffee berry is typically found within supplements, there is a chance that certain processing methods can lead to a greater reduction in antioxidant levels. In general, coffee berry extracts seem to have higher antioxidant levels than coffee berry powders. Keep this in mind when you are looking for a coffee fruit product if the antioxidant content is important to you.
Lower blood sugar levels
Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant found in plant foods, including the coffee fruit. There are studies linking polyphenol consumption with a reduced risk of developing diabetes (and help with managing the disease) because it can help with blood sugar balance.
This happens because polyphenols can help prevent blood sugar spikes after meals by preventing starch from breaking down into sugar. In addition, diets high in polyphenols are linked to higher insulin sensitivity and lower fasting blood glucose levels.
Improve heart health
Due to the high levels of antioxidants and polyphenols within the coffee fruit, inflammation may be reduced within the body. Lowering inflammation can lead to a reduction in the risk of developing heart disease.
Taking care of your heart health is especially important for those with diabetes. People with diabetes are typically at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) due to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and obesity.
The polyphenol content of coffee berries may also help reduce blood pressure and keep cholesterol levels in check. There is also a reduced chance of developing blood clots. Overall, coffee berry may have a protective effect to keep your circulation system healthy.
Some studies suggest that it is possible that coffee berry can help promote fat loss. One reason for this is that coffee berry contains high levels of chlorogenic acid, which is shown to help with weight loss, especially abdominal fat loss.
It is also shown that coffee berry can both inhibit new fat cell growth and help release stored fat to be used as energy (aka burning fat).
Improve brain and cognitive health
There is some evidence that consuming coffee berry may promote better memory and brain health by increasing levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is considered protective against Alzheimer’s as it plays a role in the growth and maintenance of neurons. Alzheimer’s is associated with lower BDNF levels, so it is possible that coffee berry could be utilized to prevent or manage this disease.
This also suggests that coffee berry may assist with enhanced learning because BDNF is associated with building new neural pathways. Since lower BDNF levels are also connected with depression, it is possible that coffee berry may help boost mood and promote feelings of wellbeing.
How to use coffee berry and where to find it
Coffee berry products can be found quite easily nowadays. Health and supplement stores along with pharmacies carry many variations of these products. You can find coffee berry in various forms, including capsules, tablets, powders, and liquid extracts.
Another form of coffee berry you can utilize is called coffee flour. Coffee flour is made of coffee berries which are dried and ground into a powder. It has a fruity flavor and can be used in baking to boost both the fiber, mineral, and antioxidant content of recipes. Be sure to follow trusted recipes, since coffee flour cannot be used with a 1:1 ratio to regular flour.
Up to 800 mg daily of coffee berry is considered to be safe. Always pay attention to the dosage listed on the labels for products containing coffee fruit to be sure you are not overconsuming.
You may also find coffee berry as an ingredient in other health products, including antioxidant blends and products that are advertised to benefit brain health or energy levels. In addition, coffee berry can be added to tea blends and health beverages. Cascara tea (aka coffee cherry tea) is made from the skin of the coffee berry.
Is coffee berry worth adding to your diet?
With all of the potential coffee berry benefits for health, you may be feeling motivated to jump on this trend. Coffee berry has been deemed safe to consume and is not associated with any adverse effects… but with all things, moderation is key.
Coffee berry still contains caffeine, although the levels are relatively small compared to a cup of coffee. So, if you also consume other forms of caffeine, it is a good idea to monitor your daily caffeine intake. Always make sure to check the dosage for the specific product and note how much caffeine each dose contains to ensure you’re not consuming too much (400 mg max).
Some people with diabetes may need to reduce caffeine intake to under 200 mg daily. Be sure to monitor your blood glucose levels to ensure your caffeine intake isn’t affecting your blood sugar levels negatively.
More research is needed to understand more about the long-term impacts of consuming coffee berry. However, the current research has shown promising coffee berry benefits for health. Along with coffee berries being an excellent choice to promote good health, they are also sustainable and reduce food waste.
As always, be sure to communicate with your dietitian before beginning any supplement to ensure that it is appropriate for you and your individual needs.