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Eating coffee: Everything you need to know about this delicious and surprising snack

It’s hard to beat a rich and delicious cup of coffee, but have you ever considered eating the beans? Whether in their roasted or green “cherry coffee” state, eating coffee can be flavorsome snack that gives a similar kick and taste as the beverage, but with a little more power.

Before we began grinding the coffee beans and filtering water through to make the tasty beverage, coffee beans were used by our ancestors as an energy boost during hunting and farming.  The Oromo tribe from Ethiopia used to mix the ground beans with fat to make an ancient form of an energy bar.

Here’s a rundown on everything you need to know.

Is it safe to eat?

The coffee bean is safe to eat, but in moderation. Brewed coffee has been diluted with water and milk before we drink it meaning it’s a weaker form in comparison to the bean. Eating the coffee bean has the same effect as drinking it, but because it’s in a more concentrated form these effects are increased.

There is reason to be careful with how much you eat. Brewing coffee also removes some of the chemicals found in the bean, but when eating them in their raw or roasted state you consume everything, both good and bad. Also, because you are eating it, it is absorbed into your bloodstream faster through the mucus membrane in the mouth.

What are the benefits?

There has been quite a bit of debate surrounding whether coffee is a benefit to health and now most agree that it has its positives and negatives and it’s the same when eating the beans.

Beans contain even more antioxidants than its diluted form, which are great for cleaning free radicals from the blood stream. The concentration of antioxidants has been linked to the prevention of cancer, immune dysfunction, cognitive impairment and reducing the chances of cardiovascular disease.

With the high concentration of caffeine, they can provide a great energy boost, helping you focus and feel more awake and alert. Caffeine blocks the hormone responsible for drowsiness, adenosine and in the bean form the effects are more intense, so if you’re looking for a quick pick me up it could be the answer. It can also provide a boost to your memory and increase levels of Dopamine, a chemical that plays an important role in the body and mind.

Unroasted beans are also a great source of protein, so eaten in this state can be a great boost to your system. It can also help you feel less sore after a workout as Adenosine is also responsible for perception of muscle inflammation pai. A study has found that eating coffee beans before exercising can reduce muscle soreness by 26%, perfect for those who like to slave away in the gym.

The drawbacks

It’s not all good though. Too much caffeine can cause sleep deprivation, meaning you could find it harder to fall and stay asleep and may also cause you to feel unrested even after a long night sleep. This depends on the volume of coffee beans you consume as well as the time in relation to when you go to bed.

As with brewed coffee, there’s a laxative effect with consuming bean, which contain enzymes that stimulate bowel contractions. So moderation is advised, otherwise you may need to spend some time on the toilet.

There is also a risk of heartburn as coffee beans can increase levels of stomach acid.

How do you eat it?

There’s no right or wrong way to eat coffee. You can snack on unroasted beans, mix the ground coffee with ice cream or yoghurt to make a sweet treat. Coffee brownies, where you use coffee beans instead of chocolate chunks is also a popular way to get your fix.

Most coffee houses or specialist food stores sell coffee-based products including chocolate covered coffee beans, protein bars and plain beans ready to be consumed.

Why not try experimenting yourself? You never know what you might discover.  

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