Can you eat coffee grounds or are they toxic?

Can You Eat Coffee Grounds Safely?

It’s a question that I’m sure we’ve all had cross our mind at one point or another – can you eat coffee grounds?  Leftover already-brewed coffee grounds may not at first seem like the most appetizing snack around, but, in short, they are indeed edible.  

This does not mean however, that you should gorge yourself on second-hand caffeine, but there are health benefits associated with limited consumption. We’ll be taking you through a look at how safe coffee grounds are to eat, the risk level associated with eating too many, and why and how you’d want to eat coffee grounds in the first place.

Is It Healthy To Eat Coffee Grounds?

In limited quantities, eating coffee grounds can be healthy. After brewing, spent coffee grounds still contain large amounts of fatty acids, amino acids, polyphenols, polysaccharides, and various other compounds and minerals.  These antioxidants and nutrients are the reason behind the culinary applications and health benefits of consuming small amounts of coffee grounds.  Spent or unspent, they also contain volatile compounds, which make excess consumption so dangerous.

You can check out this article on how to grinding your own coffee beans at home if you don’t already have a grinder. 

Is Eating Coffee Grounds Bad For You?

Eating a large amount of coffee grounds comes with several risks. The exact effects of consuming spent coffee grounds regularly as a dietary supplement remain largely unstudied in humans despite promising clinical trials involving animals. Scientific evidence confirming the benefits of individual compounds present in coffee are abundant, and countless coffee consumers attest to the benefits. Yet,  human clinical trials aren’t quite there yet. What we do understand completely is the risk associated with consuming too many coffee grounds and how the isolated components of coffee help the body.

is eating coffee grounds bad for you

Are Coffee Grounds Toxic?

Coffee grounds are edible and non- toxic. Eating a spoonful of coffee grounds is good for you and unlikely to cause any discomfort or unease. However, naturally occurring oils present in all coffee beans, whole, ground, and spent elevate cholesterol levels when consumed. Two diterpenes called cafestol, and kahweol raise cholesterol.

Brewed coffee contains limited concentrations, whereas spent coffee grounds are high in both compounds. French press (plunger) coffee, Turkish coffee, Scandinavian boiled coffee, and the finest grind of various other beans including almost all popular varieties are the highest in diterpenes. Filtering before serving catches the cafestol and kahweol but eating coffee grounds ingests it directly.

Can Your Body Digest Coffee Grounds?

The whole coffee bean, including the cafestol, catechols, caffeine, acids, and kahweol, is digestible, but many of the compounds can trigger an increase in stomach acid production. Those with regular gut function consuming limited quantities of coffee grounds regularly may see gastrointestinal benefits, which we’ll cover soon.

However, for anyone who suffers from GERD, ulcers, recurring reflux, regular heartburn, bloating, slow metabolism, or poor digestion, the act of drinking unfiltered coffee and eating coffee grounds may spur acute, severe discomfort. Stay away from eating coffee and drinking a lot of coffee if you battle with stomach acid.

What Happens If You Eat Coffee Grounds?

Eating coffee grounds grants a minor stimulatory effect while promoting a subtle underlying chain of long-term health benefits if consumed regularly. Adding coffee grounds to a diet is by no means recommended based on medical advice, but current research shows that it supports the body with caffeine, healthy higher levels of antioxidants than brewed coffee, and massive amounts of dietary fiber.

Can You Eat Coffee Grounds For Caffeine?

You can, but ideally, you wouldn’t want to eat spent or freshly ground coffee grounds to get in your caffeine fix. There are between 3.59 to 8.09 milligrams of caffeine per gram of spent coffee grounds, according to research from The Department of Nutrition. A single, standard 8 fluid ounce cup of coffee weighing 237 grams carries 94.8 mg of caffeine.

You would need to eat between 11.71 and 26.4 grams of used coffee grounds at 4.2 grams of caffeine per teaspoon (the average for filter coffee). That’s between three and six teaspoons of grainy washed-out bitterish flat-tasting gunk to get the same kick as the average cup of joe. To make things worse, the stimulant effect will kick in anything between 40 minutes and two hours later, thanks to the ever-so-slow rate of digestion compared to the 15 minutes flat when drinking your caffeine instead.

benefits of eating coffee grounds

6 Benefits Of Eating Coffee Grounds*

After brewing, spent coffee grounds still contain large amounts of fatty acids, amino acids, polyphenols, polysaccharides, and various other substances. Coffee grounds that have been brewed already actually have a higher concentration of dietary phenolic compounds than freshly ground coffee. Phenolic compounds have been connected to widespread health benefits ranging from improved mental acuity to healthy weight loss, balanced blood pressure, and even anti-cancer benefits.

1. Improved Immunity & Anti-Inflammatory Response

One such polyphenolic compound that’s higher in spent coffee grounds is caffeoylquinic acids, a core component of our body’s pro-inflammatory response. The chemokine cytokines that consuming caffeoylquinic acids provides, has an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect that’s effective at fighting fever, lymphopoiesis, a precursor of irregular thymus function, bone marrow disorders, impaired white blood cell production, and many adaptive immunity disorders like lymphomas and lymphoid leukemia. Chemokine is also useful in the the treatment of various inflammatory diseases.

2. Powerful Antioxidant & Antimicrobial Activity

Used coffee grounds are also high in melanoidins which are antioxidant compounds with strong antimicrobial activity. Melanoidins consumed through dietary sources have metal-chelating properties that improve mineral absorption while disrupting bacteria growth which helps prevent pathogens from taking hold of the body.

3. Lowered Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease & Alzheimer's

The high concentration of chlorogenic acids, which are phenolic acid antioxidant compounds, is proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and inflammation throughout the body. There are also studies confirming the reduction of risk from mentally degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. It’s estimated that the average American receives more antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source.

4. Coffee Grounds For Weight Loss & Obesity

Eating coffee grounds for weight loss is one of the more promising potential health benefits for many. Although not yet confirmed in human trials, the University of Southern Queensland in Australia found that supplementing an unhealthy diet with just 5% spent coffee grounds triggered widespread anti-obesity benefits. Eating coffee grounds for eight weeks normalized blood pressure while causing blood sugar levels to drop. Symptoms of a fatty liver also improved in the study subjects, male rats fed a diet high in fat and carbohydrates. Gut bacteria and glucose intolerance also improved.

5. Improved Gut Health, Lowered Risk Of Diabetes

There is presently ongoing interest in the potential of coffee to be consumed as an effective treatment for postoperative constipation due to the way that it helps the intestines recuperate and function better. Research also reveals that drinking two or more cups of coffee daily improved the gut microbiome profiles of test subjects. There were more bacterial species abundantly found throughout the large intestine of coffee consumers, supplying an immense anti-inflammatory boost. Coffee drinkers were also found to be less likely to have the Erysipela Clostridium bacteria connected to metabolic disorders like Type II diabetes.

6. Widespread Whole-Body Benefits From High-Fiber

Coffee grounds contain more soluble dietary fiber than either wine or orange juice. Dietary fiber is another component of coffee that benefits gut health. A high fiber diet is known to regulate and improve bowel movements, normalizing one’s cycle. High fiber intake also drastically reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and a range of diseases affecting the stomach and gastrointestinal tract. From aiding ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease to boosting immune function, dietary fiber helps well-being as a whole.

*Please do not stop any medical treatments or taking prescribed medication.  Always seek professional help.  The above is for information purposes and not medical advice as I am not a medical professional in any way.

How to use Coffee Grounds in Baking

Fine, freshly ground coffee has countless culinary applications for the inventive cook. One of the easiest ways to reuse coffee grounds if they’re a fine enough grind is to include them in baked goods.

As a general rule of thumb, don’t add more than three to four teaspoons of spent grounds to a batch of baked goods. If using fresh coffee grounds, two teaspoons are all you’ll need. A few flecks of coffee in sugar cookies or a muffin is great but add too many, and the texture and taste will become overpowering.

what happens if you eat coffee grounds

How To Use Coffee Grounds in Cooking

Cooking with Coffee Grounds

The flavor and acidic nature of coffee grounds make it a great ingredient to include in rubs for steak, pork, and vegetables. Caffeic and chlorogenic acids in coffee help to tenderize the meat and soften up vegetables without imparting a prominent flavor. Around 2.2 pounds of meat calls for approximately four tablespoons of spent grounds. Most will find that dried fresh grounds give a stronger flavor, but for a lighter rub/marinade, dried spent coffee grounds still work great and are often preferred due to being milder. Simply combine coffee grounds with a range of your favorite herbs and spices suited to the meal you’re cooking and marinate overnight in the wet or dry rub.

Eating Coffee Grounds FAQ

Am I Addicted To Coffee Grounds?

There can be several underlying reasons for craving coffee, but suddenly craving coffee grounds is highly unusual. Those who are low in catecholamines due to poor production by the adrenal glands often crave coffee. However, wanting to eat weird things, in general, can be a symptom of Pica. This eating disorder which is typically temporary with a risk of long-term danger typically arises due to an iron, zinc, or other nutrient deficiency. If you’ve noticed a craving for irregular foods, including a strange desire for eating coffee grounds, consider your diet and the possibility of malnutrition.

Is Eating Coffee Grounds The Same As Drinking Coffee?

Eating fresh or spent coffee grounds supplies the body with a concentrated range of the same nutrients and compounds as drinking coffee. There’s more caffeine, more antioxidants, and more phenolic compounds. Some of the active constituents are absorbed through the mucous in our mouths, but the majority of absorption occurs in the gut. This means a longer period before you feel the stimulant effects, but also a longer-lasting lift. The only significant risk is consuming too high of a concentration and triggering excessive stomach acid and the span of ill effects it can cause.

Consider Giving Coffee Grounds A Try!

You’re not going to find foods made with coffee grounds readily available, but a little bit of careful shopping will reveal a host of tasty chocolate-covered roasted coffee beans. Coffee beans are edible and, when prepared properly, extremely tasty. Moderation is the key to receiving the caffeine boost and health benefits. If you’re fond of the taste of coffee and curious about eating coffee grounds, we suggest that you try adapting or finding coffee-ground alternatives to a few of your favorite recipes.