Coffee beans are the seeds of the coffee fruit, often known as the coffee cherry.These bean-like seeds are usually dried, roasted and brewed to make coffee.
Because drinking coffee has been associated with many health benefits – such as reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and liver disease – you may be wondering if drinking coffee beans has the same effect.
Eating coffee beans – especially chocolate-covered ones – is an increasingly popular way to get a caffeine fix.
Safe to Eat Coffee Beans
Coffee beans have been consumed for hundreds of years or more.
It is believed that before coffee became a beverage, its beans were often mixed with animal fat and consumed to increase energy levels.
Coffee beans provide the same nutrients as a cup of coffee – but in a much more concentrated form.
Because regular coffee is filtered and diluted with water, you only get some of the caffeine and other substances found in the whole bean.
In addition, consuming coffee beans – rather than drinking the beverage – may result in faster absorption of caffeine through the lining of the mouth.
The beneficial and negative effects of coffee are magnified when the beans are consumed whole.
It is therefore best to consume coffee beans in moderation.
That said, green coffee beans – which are raw – are not very pleasant to eat. They have a bitter, woody taste and can be difficult to chew. Roasted coffee beans are slightly softer.
Chocolate-covered roasted coffee beans are often sold as a snack and are easy to find in your local shop.
Coffee beans are safe to eat. However, it is advisable to consume coffee beans in moderation as their nutrients are more concentrated than those in liquid coffee.
While many studies have examined the benefits of coffee as a beverage, few have explored the effects of drinking coffee beans.
However, consuming the beans probably offers some of the same benefits as drinking the beverage. Here are some potential benefits of snacking on coffee beans.
An excellent source of antioxidants
Coffee beans are full of powerful antioxidants, the most abundant of which is chlorogenic acid, a family of polyphenols with health benefits .
Studies show that chlorogenic acid can reduce the risk of diabetes and fight inflammation. Some trials suggest that it may also have anti-cancer properties.
The amount of chlorogenic acid in coffee beans varies according to the type of bean and roasting methods .
In fact, roasting can result in a loss of 50-95% of chlorogenic acid – although coffee beans are still thought to be one of the best food sources (10).
An easily absorbed source of caffeine
Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in a variety of foods and drinks, including coffee and tea.
On average, eight coffee beans provide the same amount of caffeine as one cup of coffee.
Your body absorbs caffeine from whole coffee beans at a faster rate than from liquid coffee.
Caffeine has an impact on the brain and central nervous system, which has many benefits. For example, it can boost energy, alertness, mood, memory and performance.
One study found that drinking 2 cups of coffee with 200 mg of caffeine – the equivalent of about 17 coffee beans – was as effective as a 30-minute nap in reducing driving errors .
In another study, a dose of 60 mg of caffeine – about 1 espresso or 5 coffee beans – improved satisfaction, mood and attention .
Caffeine works by inhibiting the hormone adenosine, which causes drowsiness and fatigue.
This chemical may also improve exercise performance and weight loss by stimulating metabolism.
Other potential benefits
Observational studies have linked coffee to multiple health benefits, including a reduced risk of the following .
- all-cause death
- heart disease and stroke
- certain cancers
- liver disease, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver
- type 2 diabetes
brain disorders, such as depression, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease
Animal and human studies also suggest that green coffee bean extract can reduce blood pressure in people with already high levels.
However, remember that these benefits are based on observational studies and not on rigorous controlled trials. Therefore, more research is needed before definitive conclusions can be drawn.
Coffee beans are a concentrated source of antioxidants and caffeine. They have anti-inflammatory properties that protect against certain diseases and boost energy and mood.
Although moderate consumption of coffee beans is perfectly healthy, consuming too much can cause problems. In addition, some people are sensitive to the substances in the beans, which can lead to unpleasant side effects.
Heartburn and upset stomach
Certain compounds in coffee beans can cause stomach upset in some people.
Indeed, caffeine and other compounds called catechols present in coffee beans have been shown to increase stomach acid
This can lead to heartburn, an uncomfortable condition in which stomach acid pushes up the oesophagus.
It can also cause bloating, nausea and upset stomach.
Studies have shown that the use of green coffee bean extracts in higher doses has caused diarrhoea and stomach upset in people with sensitive stomachs .