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Coffee is one of the most popular and widely consumed beverages in the world. Millions of people start their day with coffee in large part due to the boost they get from the caffeine.
Not everyone likes the taste of coffee as a beverage. If you don’t enjoy drinking coffee but still want its benefits, you can always chew on the beans.
But is it safe to eat raw coffee beans? In this article, we talk about everything you need to know about eating coffee beans raw, including its benefits, disadvantages, and what to expect.
Is it Safe to Eat Raw Coffee Beans?
Yes, coffee beans are safe for consumption. Coffee beans are essentially seeds of the coffee plant and chewing on them in a limited amount can offer you all the health advantages of drinking coffee in moderation.
When you buy coffee online or from a supermarket, you’re getting beans that have been dried, roasted, and powdered. You can also get dried beans that you can grind and brew at home.
How Much Caffeine in One Coffee Bean?
On average, you can get about 2 to 3 milligrams of caffeine from a single bean.
Roasted and ground beans might not come with the same amount of caffeine as you will get directly from the bean. Some of the caffeine is lost in the processing of the beans, but roasting and grinding coffee might also make it more potent.
Caffeine content of a coffee bean depends on what kind of coffee you’re consuming. Arabica coffee does not have as much caffeine as Robusta, so while an Arabica bean contains 1.9 mg of caffeine per bean, Robusta beans can contain as much as 2.9 mg.
So how many coffee beans can you eat at a time?
This number depends upon the amount of caffeine that is safe to consume in one sitting, or in the course of a day.
A single dose of caffeine should ideally not exceed more than 200 mg and you should not consume more than 400 mg a day. You can learn more about this by checking out this article on eating coffee beans.
Therefore, on an average, you can eat 60 to 70 coffee beans in a single sitting. Please keep in mind that a lot of commercially available coffee beans will be covered in chocolate to improve their taste. Caffeine is also present in considerable amounts in chocolate. Therefore, you can only eat around 35 chocolate-covered coffee beans safely.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Chewing coffee beans can be beneficial for your health but, like most things, it is only good in moderation. What are the effects of eating coffee beans? What are the side effects of eating roasted coffee beans? And what are the pros and cons of eating coffee beans?
The caffeine that you will get from chewing coffee beans will come in a much more concentrated form than you will get from a beverage. This means that it will come with its share of pros and cons. Keep in mind that these advantages and side effects might differ in intensity based on body type, genetics, age, and gender.
Heart health: Coffee beans not only contain caffeine but also come with a considerable amount of antioxidants. This can help reduce inflammation, reduce fat absorption, and block some receptors that cause abnormal heart rhythms. You can learn more about this by checking out this article on the benefits of daily coffee on your heart.
Cancer prevention: Although there have been a lot of studies about both sides of this argument, in moderation, coffee may reduce the chances of some cancers. Some cancers that are shown to have reduced risk with coffee are head, neck, colorectal, breast, and liver cancer. You can learn more about this by checking out this article on Coffee and Cancer.
Liver health: Your liver is one of the most important organs in your body when it comes to filtering out and metabolizing toxins that enter your body. For example, if you consume a lot of alcohol, it causes scarring on your liver walls in a condition called fibrosis. When caffeine is processed in your body, it releases a chemical that slows down the growth of this scar tissue, thereby improving your liver health and preventing illnesses.
Diabetes: As mentioned earlier, coffee can improve insulin sensitivity and increase its secretion in the body. Since the main cause of type 2 diabetes is your body’s inability to produce insulin, this increased secretion with the help of coffee beans can help prevent the disease.
Mental health benefits: The most common effect and widespread reason behind the consumption of coffee is its ability to improve your mood, give you energy, and help you focus. Increased concentration and high productivity are some of the mental health benefits you can expect from chewing roasted coffee beans.
Weight Loss: Does eating coffee beans help you lose weight? When you chew on roasted coffee beans, the caffeine in them is absorbed easily through the skin of your mouth even before it gets to your digestive tract. This caffeine helps aid weight loss in multiple ways, including breaking down fat cells, increasing your metabolism, and reducing your appetite. Chewing on coffee beans is even better than drinking coffee when it comes to this, as your body will subconsciously feel like you’re eating something because of the chewing motion.
Aging and overall health: Coffee beans are full of antioxidants. As you get older, the health problems you face are because of your body slowly oxidizing over time. Chewing on coffee beans releases antioxidants that improve cell strength, reduce inflammation, and slow down the aging process.
The concentrated nature of roasted coffee beans can give you a surge of caffeine in your body too quickly. The side effects from this type of caffeine boost can make you feel quite unpleasant and uncomfortable.
Heartburn: Consuming a large amount of caffeine relaxes the muscles at the lower end of your esophagus. These muscles act like a valve, letting food travel to the stomach but preventing it from coming back. However, with these muscles relaxed, there is nothing stopping the acids from your stomach from coming up your digestive tract. This increased acidity leads to heartburn.
Bloating: Another reason why high caffeine contents might increase the acidity in your stomach is that coffee is inherently acidic. The acidity of the coffee will further increase the acidity of your stomach, causing it to swell up. This is especially true if you chew roasted coffee beans on an empty stomach. You might experience symptoms like bloating and gas after chewing coffee beans.
Nausea: Nausea is another side effect that you can expect due to increased acidity in your stomach. Coffee is a diuretic, which means that it will remove water from your body at a higher than normal rate. This also means that extra water is brought from your blood into your digestive system, which can make you feel nauseated and uneasy.
Urge to Defecate: While a lot of people drink coffee in the morning to help with their bowel movements, chewing on roasted coffee beans can make it a lot worse. Hormones like gastrin and cholecystokinin are released when you drink coffee, which urges your body to flush out waste with a bowel movement.
Unhealthy sleep: It is common knowledge that you’re not supposed to drink coffee before bed because of the surge of energy it offers. Caffeine in high amounts is not recommended as it can be detrimental to your sleep cycle. Not getting enough sleep or having an unhealthy schedule is also linked to much more serious issues like obesity and heart disease.
Anxiety: Caffeine has the same effect on you as a traumatic or shocking event might. It gives you a jolt that wakes you up. While for most people this can be an excellent option that gives them the energy to get work done, caffeine might trigger some people’s fight or flight response. If you’re prone to anxiety attacks, the concentrated nature of coffee beans might not be the best option for you.
Increased heart rate: People who suffer from heart disease are advised to regulate the amount of caffeine they consume. This is because high amounts of caffeine can cause a temporary increase in heart rate and blood pressure. This might also contribute to the anxiety factor mentioned above.
Withdrawal: If you’re a regular coffee drinker and you need your cup of joe first thing in the morning, you might have noticed that you have low energy and mood swings if you go without it. Caffeine is highly addictive and the higher amount present in roasted coffee beans can increase these symptoms of withdrawal. You might experience difficulty in concentration, headaches, lethargy, and irritability if your body gets used to high amounts of caffeine.
Pregnancy: Doctors prevent expecting mothers from drinking coffee and coffee beans have the same issue. The caffeine in coffee beans can cause constricted blood vessels in the uterus, reducing the supply of blood to the baby and causing complications. Pregnant women should stay away from chewing coffee beans altogether.
The long lists of both health benefits and side effects of eating raw coffee beans might have left you confused about whether they’re right for you. However, if you consume coffee beans responsibly and take a few precautions, you have nothing to be worried about. You can experience all their health benefits without the side effects.
Bean types: As mentioned earlier, the amount of caffeine present in different types of coffee beans might vary by a factor of as large as 50%. Make sure that you know exactly how much caffeine you’re consuming, keeping track of which bean type you’re eating and whether it is covered with chocolate.
Moderation: Chocolate covered coffee beans can be quite delicious and you might lose track of how many you’ve eaten. An easy way to take care of this problem is to never eat them straight out of the packet and limit your number to the amount that is safe for you.
Other caffeine sources: If you’re thinking of eating raw coffee beans, you will have to cut out the caffeine from other sources in your day to day life. Coffee, soft drinks, and chocolate all have a high amount of caffeine, which you should factor into your total consumption for the day.
The Bottom Line
Is it safe to eat coffee beans? Yes, completely. Chewing on raw coffee beans is a healthy and safe way to get your caffeine while also providing your body with antioxidants, reducing inflammation, and protecting your body to a certain extent against heart diseases, some types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes. It might also help your mental health and aid weight loss.
However, coffee beans must only be consumed in moderation. Caffeine addiction is a real problem that can cause both physical and mental issues if coffee is not consumed responsibly. If you’re an enthusiast, check out our coffee recipes.