Let’s talk about the reason coffee is so good for you: chlorogenic acid (CGA). It’s a powerful antioxidant not only abundant in your caffeine buzz (or not, for you decaf lovers out there), but certain fruits and vegetables as well. Diets rich in these foods promote greater health, and in obese mice, CGA can improve insulin resistance and fatty livers — two common side effects of obesity. Hence, CGA can the reduce effects of obesity. Math is fun.

"Previous studies have shown that coffee consumption may lower the risk for chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease," said Yongjie Ma, lead study author and a post-doctoral research associate in the University of Georgia’s College of Pharmacy, in a press release. "Our study expands on this research by looking at the benefits associated with this specific compound, which is found in great abundance in coffee, but also in other fruits and vegetables like apples, pears, tomatoes, and blueberries."

Published in the journal Pharmaceutical Research, Ma’s study consisted of mice following a high-fat diet for 15 weeks while also being injected with a CGA solution twice each week. CGA prevented weight gain, and maintained blood sugar and a healthy liver. In addition to being an antioxidant, CGA acts as an anti-inflammatory. Ma noted that some research suggests chronic inflammation is a signficant driver behind obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome. If CGA can reduce inflammation, it may offset these negative side effects of weight gain.

But, this isn’t an invitation to binge on coffee and berries for breakfast. The CGA mice received via injection was way higher than all that coffee, fruits, and vegetables can provide humans. There is a silver lining though. “We do think that we might be able to create a useful therapeutic using CGA that will help those at risk for obesity-related disease as they make positive lifestyle changes,” Ma said.

In order to understand this use, Ma and his team will need to conduct further research, as well as work on developing a CGA solution specifically for human consumption, if only because prior research made the opposite connection between CGA and a high-fat diet. One study even found dietary antioxidants, like CGA, don’t protect against obesity-related disease.

Source: Ma Y, Gao M, Liu D. Chlorogenic Acid Improves High Fat Diet-Induced Hepatic Steatosis and Insulin Resistance in Mice. Pharmaceutical Research, 2014.