A scientific first? RCT supports cognitive benefits of chlorogenic acids

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Japanese researchers extracted Chlorogenic acids from green coffee beans.   Image © Getty Images / Fydorov
Japanese researchers extracted Chlorogenic acids from green coffee beans. Image © Getty Images / Fydorov

Related tags Cognitive function Cognitive health Coffee

Chlorogenic acids – compounds found in coffee – may improve measures like cognitive performance and motor speeds, says a new study from Japan’s Kao Corporation.

Sixteen weeks of supplementation with 300 mg per day of chlorogenic acids (CGAs) were associated with significant improvements in motor speed, psychomotor speed, and executive function, compared with placebo.

CGA supplementation was also associated with improvements in shifting attention test scores, according to data published in the journal Nutrients​.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study that investigated the effects of a 16-week intake of CGAs on cognitive performance in humans,”​ wrote the researchers. “Comparison between CGA and placebo groups indicated the potential beneficial effects of CGAs on some cognitive functions.”

Study details

The Japan-based researchers recruited 38 healthy people to participate in the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The volunteers were randomly assigned to receive either the CGAs supplement or placebo.

The researchers used hot water extraction to obtain CGAs from green coffee beans, which was then spray-dried to produce a dry powder. Analysis showed that the CGAs in the extract were caffeoylquinic acids (CQAs), feruloylquinic acids (FQAs), and dicaffeoylquinic acids (diCQAs).

The results indicated that, after 16 weeks of supplementation, psychomotor speed improved. This is potentially important because there is considerable evidence to show that this slows as we age, and it is related other cognitive functions like verbal fluency.

“Therefore, maintaining psychomotor speed is critical for the elderly, and CGAs could play a beneficial role in this effort, as we have shown here,” ​wrote the researchers.

Improvements in executive function – and attention control in particular – were also reported by participants in the CGAs group, compared to placebo.

“Considering these findings, CGA intake may improve an individual’s ability to perform complex tasks efficiently by improving not only motor activity but also cognitive functions such as attention control,” ​they explained. “These findings are in accordance with the results of our previous pilot study, wherein a 6-month intake of CGAs was found to improve cognitive function, especially in the prefrontal cortex.”

Mechanism(s) of action

Cognitive function © Getty Images Radachynskyi
© Getty Images / Radachynskyi

Blood analysis revealed increases in levels of proteins called apolipoprotein A1 (apoA1) and transthyretin (TTR) in the CGAs group, compared to the placebo. Low levels of both of these are considered putative biomarkers for early-stage cognitive decline.

“Therefore, increased TTR and ApoA1 levels might reflect the improved cognitive functions, as observed in the neuropsychological tests,” ​wrote the researchers.

“It is possible that long-term daily intake of CGAs may prevent cognitive disorders not only via direct neuroprotective action, but also indirectly by improving metabolic syndrome and sleep quality.”

Source: Nutrients
2018, 10​(10), 1337; doi: 10.3390/nu10101337
“Effect of Chlorogenic Acids on Cognitive Function: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial”
Authors: K. Saitou et al.

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