Can You Eat Coffee Grounds?

Coffee is one of the world’s most consumed beverages that has been growing steadily over the last decade.

Coffee grounds are the by-product of coffee beans that have been dried, roasted, and ground up for use in home coffee makers, coffee shops, and restaurants worldwide.

If you’re a coffee-lover, there’s a good chance that you’ve indulged in a chocolate-covered coffee bean from your local coffee shop, but you might be wondering if it’s okay to eat coffee grounds.

We discuss whether you can eat coffee grounds, some potential benefits, and a few other things to consider.

Picking Through the Choices

Can you eat coffee grounds? The short answer is yes, but there are a few ways to consider consuming coffee grounds. The choice depends on your personal preferences and how much caffeine you want to consume.

Breaking these choices down by adding additional details will certainly help the average coffee fan understand the differences between three readily available coffee sources.

  1. Coffee Beans: Eating coffee beans provides the highest concentration of beneficial chemical compounds but also provides a potentially harmful level of concentrated caffeine, even without consuming a large quantity.
  2. Unused Coffee Grounds: Unused coffee grounds hold similar concentrations of these beneficial chemicals and high caffeine levels. Slight loss of these chemicals occurs during the coffee grinding process.
  3. Used Coffee Grounds: The total concentration of chemical compounds in used grounds becomes diluted by the brewing process but is still present in beneficial quantities. Do not count diluted grounds out, as they may be the best path to safe compound consumption.

Another benefit to used coffee grounds is that it provides a means of totally using the coffee product with little to no discarded waste.

Health Benefits of Coffee

Coffee has many innate health benefits mixed into those small beans. The nutrients in coffee beans provide two main beneficial qualities, which include Antioxidants and Anti-Radicals.

  • Antioxidant qualities of coffee provide for properties that fight inflammation, allergies, viruses and have antibacterial properties as well. These are tremendous benefits when coffee is consumed in moderation.
  • Anti-radical activities include the ability to react with free radicals in the body and have been shown to bring about positive neurological benefits. These benefits can include reducing the risk of certain neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease.
  • The overall Health Benefits have been associated with decreases in the risks of multiple illnesses. These illnesses/benefits may include:
  • Liver cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Colon Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Weight loss
  • Alzheimer’s disease

It is important to note that high levels of coffee intake cause an increase in caffeine, which can be detrimental to your health. The NIH provides information on caffeine consumption levels and recommends that adults not consume more than 400mg/day.

When consumed at moderate levels, the health benefits of coffee with caffeine are worth considering as determining factors for eating coffee grounds and as an essential part of this discussion topic.

The health benefits of eating are looking good thus far, which is why it is worth exploring in greater detail.

Ways to Eat Coffee Grounds

If you want to eat coffee grounds, there are various ways to prepare them for consumption. Most people will probably not find that taking a spoonful of grounds from the filter and eating them is very appetizing. So, here are some recommended ways to get coffee grounds into the body.

Incorporating coffee grounds into the diet should be done in small quantities and never to excess. Here are a few ideas for incorporating grounds into the diet.

  • Add to muffin recipes/mixes
  • Mix into yogurt
  • Add to dessert recipes (mixed into chocolate deserts will usually yield the best flavor)
  • Include some grounds into nutrition shakes or smoothies
  • Add to sauces
  • Sprinkle onto oatmeal

Coffee grounds (new or reused) are perfectly edible when mixed into recipes. If you have any health concerns, consulting with a nutritionist, dietician or doctor is recommended and some scientists have already begun in-depth studies for eating coffee grounds.

Professor Brown, for example, has been studying these benefits in the laboratory for seven years, and personally uses (used) coffee grounds as described above. It is important to note that there have not been any formal human trials conducted as of July 2020.

Note:  If reusing leftover coffee grounds from the coffee pot, please consider drying the grounds on low heat in the oven before using them in recipes or as toppings. Drying the grounds will make them easier to store, sprinkle, and safely last longer than undried grounds.

General Concerns of Eating Grounds

As with anything we eat, there are typically always general concerns expressed by respective experts. While eating coffee grounds in small doses is relatively healthy, it’s important to remember that research is limited and there are some potential side effects:

  • Human trials have not been conducted
  • May cause heartburn/stomach problems
  • Sleep issues can occur (usually when consumed later in the day)
  • Anxiety
  • Bowel movement changes

Coffee is a great source of antioxidants and anti-radicals, and many studies agree that there is great benefit in the consumption of moderate amounts. As studies have shown, these health benefits can be tremendous, when health considerations are included.

Consulting with a primary care doctor before adding coffee grounds directly to diets should be considered to ensure you discuss any health concerns. The health data has shown that consuming coffee grounds may provide great benefits in moderation.

Safety Roundup for Different Types of Consumption

Coffee has been consumed for centuries and in various ways, including being used in foods and various beverage choices; coffee has been a big part of cultures worldwide. Though drinking coffee is rising, eating coffee beans and grounds is just beginning to take hold.

Since this new trend is starting to come about, such as sales of chocolate-covered coffee beans and coffee lovers mixing grounds into recipes, these coffee facts, and other facets should be considered.

  • Coffee beans have more concentrated caffeine
  • Unused grounds have high caffeine content
  • Brewed grounds have been diluted reducing caffeine content
  • Cold press coffee is more concentrated than percolated or brewed
  • Some diet aids already contain caffeine
  • Keep tea, soda, and other caffeinated products in mind

Drinking coffee is the most common consumption method and consumers should always consider the above-mentioned facets. Before changing any diet, understanding general concerns is important in the quest of reaping the medicinal benefits of coffee.

The Verdict

Coffee grounds can be eaten and shown in lab animals to provide many benefits to the test subjects. Though human trials have not been conducted, coffee grounds and coffee beans are being consumed more regularly by consumers in various ways.

Using coffee grounds in the diet has not been determined to be dangerous, as long as basic caffeine consumption guidelines are met, and digestive tract considerations are maintained.

Medicinal properties of coffee have been studied for decades and many of these medicinal properties are widely recognized by the NIH and other governmental and scientific experts.

Conclusive studies have shown that coffee beans and coffee grounds contain valuable antioxidant and anti-radical properties.

Brewing can moderately reduce these properties’ efficacy, but definitely consider using used grounds, despite the dilution process.

Final Thoughts

The verdict is in and it is okay to eat coffee grounds, within proper dietary constraints.

Eating coffee grounds is not implicated as a health risk, but should be done with care. Since there is not a definitive set of studies, using the precautions outlined in this article is a good idea, and consulting with a doctor is always a good idea before any diet changes.

Coffee grounds can be added to the diet in some very creative ways, some of which we discussed here. Incorporating coffee grounds into the diet via mixing into food ingredients may help minimize digestive tract issues associated with eating grounds directly.

Essential aspects of managing the addition of coffee grounds to the diet include closely monitoring caffeine content, monitoring changes to the digestive system, noting rapid changes in weight loss or weight gain, and ensuring proper storage of used grounds to prevent spoilage.

Gradually adding coffee grounds to a daily diet is the best course of action, instead of a rapid dietary change approach. This will allow time for the body to get used to it and help the individual determine which methods of consumption work best for him or her.

Since the recognized consensus is that coffee is good for people in moderation, with multiple studies showing that coffee contains healthful chemical compounds, then adding coffee grounds into the diet may provide vast benefits.

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