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Are Coffee Beans Safe For Consumption? Science-backed Health Benefits And Risks

Every year, International Coffee Day is celebrated on 1 October. The exact origin of International Coffee Day is unknown. Globally, the day is observed on 1 October but in certain countries, there is National Coffee Day, specific to each nation. In India, the day was observed on 29 September but will continue till 1 October.

Coffee bean or coffee cherry is the seed of the coffee plant and source of the most beloved brew, coffee. They are referred to as beans because of their resemblance to the legume beans. Coffee beans are usually dried, roasted, and brewed to make coffee and are packed with certain health benefits. Coffee beans provide the same benefits as that of a cup of coffee.


Drinking coffee has been linked to various health benefits, such as weight loss, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, preventing the onset of liver disease and so on. However, are you aware of the benefits coffee beans possess? Or are coffee beans safe for consumption?

On this International Coffee Day, let us take a look at the plausible benefits and risks, as well as the nutritional value of coffee beans.

Is It Safe To Eat Coffee Beans?

Yes, it is safe to eat coffee beans. But, only in moderation. Eating or chewing coffee beans allow the caffeine to enter your body directly as it allows the rapid absorption of caffeine through the lining of your mouth.

The benefits possessed by coffee beans are augmented when consumed as it is. In the same likes, the negative impact of it too is amplified - thereby stressing on the importance of consuming it in moderation [1] .


In comparison to green coffee beans, roasted coffee beans are suitable for direct consumption. Green coffee beans have a bitter and woody flavour, making it unfit for direct consumption as these have not been roasted. The roasting process reduces the amount of a compound called chlorogenic acid [2] . Therefore, the normal roasted coffee we consume have a lesser amount of chlorogenic acid and is not as beneficial as green coffee.

One of the other common types of coffee bean consumed is chocolate-covered roasted coffee beans, which are not only tasty but also beneficial for your health [3] .

Nutritional Value Of Coffee Beans

Before getting into exploring the possible benefits and side effects of coffee beans, let us take a look at the nutritional value possessed by 100 grams of roasted coffee beans [4] .

100 grams contain 284 kcal of energy and 15.4 g total fat.

  • 25.9 g carbohydrate
  • 19.8 g dietary fibre
  • 10.4 g protein
  • 74 mg sodium
  • 2020 mg potassium

The remaining nutrients present in coffee beans are calcium, thiamin, niacin, phosphorus, copper, iron, riboflavin, magnesium and zinc.

Health Benefits Of Eating Coffee Beans

Studies on the health benefits possessed by coffee beans are limited [5] . It is asserted that eating coffee beans are asserted to have the same benefits as that of drinking coffee and they are mentioned below.

  • Rich source of antioxidants:Packed with an abundance of powerful antioxidants, coffee beans are rich in chlorogenic acid which belong to the family of polyphenols that help improve your overall health [6] .
  • May reduce diabetes risk:The presence of chlorogenic acid in coffee beans is linked to this property. Limited consumption of coffee beans may help reduce the risk of diabetes [7] . However, the amount of chlorogenic acid in coffee beans vary depending on the roasting method and type of beans such as Arabica beans, Robusta beans, Liberica beans and Excelsa beans.

Apart from these health benefits, coffee beans are said to possess the following benefits as well [8] :

  • Reduces inflammation
  • May fight off cancerous cells
  • Prevents heart disease and stroke
  • Prevents the onset of certain types of cancerous
  • Provides protection from brain disorders, such as depression, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease
  • Beneficial for liver illnesses such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, liver fibrosis, and liver cirrhosis [9]

Note:The above-mentioned health benefits of coffee beans are based on observational studies and thereby more research is required to substantially state its complete impact on the human body.

Side Effects Of Eating Coffee Beans

Now that you are aware of the benefits, let us take a look at the side effects of eating coffee beans [10] [11] .

  • Stomach problems:Overconsumption of coffee beans can cause stomach problems due to the presence of caffeine and compounds called catechols as it can increase the level of stomach acid. It can also cause bloating, nausea, and diarrhoea in individuals with a sensitive stomach.

People with bowel conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), should avoid its consumption [12] .

  • Heartburn:The high levels of stomach acid gets pushed back into your oesophagus, which can lead to heartburn.
  • Disturbed sleep:Although not a severe or critical side effect, chewing too much of coffee beans can cause sleeping problems, especially in caffeine-sensitive individuals.

Apart from the aforementioned side effects, over-consumption of coffee beans can cause the following as well [13] [14] :

Increased anxiety symptoms, such as palpitations, nausea, and feelings of stress

Pregnant women should avoid it as it can pose a risk of pregnancy problems, such as miscarriage, low birth weight, and early labour

Anything that is consumed in moderation is not likely to cause any side effects. Consecutively, coffee beans are good for your health, but make sure you are eating it in moderation only.

FAQs About Coffee Beans

Q. How many coffee beans are safe to eat?

A.Consuming up to 400 mg of caffeine is safe for normal, healthy individuals, depending on sensitivity and tolerance. A single Arabica coffee bean contains about 5 to 10 mg of caffeine, which means you can eat as much as 40 to 80 coffee beans per day [15] .

Q. Does it matter whether I eat light or dark roast beans?

A.No. In terms of taste, medium or dark roast beans may well be more enjoyable. In terms of caffeine content, some suggest that lighter roasts have a slightly higher caffeine content [2] .

Q. How many espressos will kill you?

A.It would take about 50 shots of espresso to kill you, depending on the size of your body.

Q. How will I know if I've had too much caffeine?

A.When your body has an excess amount of caffeine, it will lead to headaches, jitters and mood swings. Other symptoms that suggest you've taken too much caffeine include insomnia, heart palpitations and muscle tremors [16] .

View Article References  
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  2. [2]   Kelly, B. J., & Langan, J. P. (2015). U.S. Patent No. 9,068,171. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  3. [3]   Nieman, D. C., Goodman, C. L., Capps, C. R., Shue, Z. L., & Arnot, R. (2018). Influence of 2-weeks ingestion of high chlorogenic acid coffee on mood state, performance, and postexercise inflammation and oxidative stress: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 28(1), 55-65.
  4. [4]   Fenko, A., de Vries, R., & van Rompay, T. (2018). How strong is your coffee? The influence of visual metaphors and textual claims on consumers’ flavor perception and product evaluation. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 53.
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  6. [6]   Park, S. M. (2016). U.S. Patent No. 9,427,363. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  7. [7]   Angelats, E., Martínez-Pinilla, E., Oñatibia-Astibia, A., Franco, N., Navarro, G., & Franco, R. (2017). Humans and Caffeine—A Very Long Relationship. Front. Young Minds, 5, 27.
  8. [8]   Loader, T. B., Taylor, C. G., Zahradka, P., & Jones, P. J. (2017). Chlorogenic acid from coffee beans: evaluating the evidence for a blood pressure–regulating health claim. Nutrition reviews, 75(2), 114-133.
  9. [9]   Viegas, C., Pacífico, C., Faria, T., de Oliveira, A. C., Caetano, L. A., Carolino, E., ... & Viegas, S. (2017). Fungal contamination in green coffee beans samples: A public health concern. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, 80(13-15), 719-728.
  10. [10]   Ciaramelli, C., Palmioli, A., & Airoldi, C. (2019). Coffee variety, origin and extraction procedure: Implications for coffee beneficial effects on human health. Food chemistry, 278, 47-55.
  11. [11]   Grosso, G., Godos, J., Galvano, F., & Giovannucci, E. L. (2017). Coffee, caffeine, and health outcomes: an umbrella review. Annual review of nutrition, 37, 131-156.
  12. [12]   Abaya, S. W., Bråtveit, M., Deressa, W., Kumie, A., & Moen, B. E. (2019). Respiratory Health Among Hand Pickers in Primary Coffee-Processing Factories of Ethiopia. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine, 61(7), 565-571.
  13. [13]   Gloria, M. B. A., & Engeseth, N. J. (2019). Potential Adverse Effects of Coffee Bioactive Amines to Human Health. In Coffee (pp. 548-555).
  14. [14]   Viegas, O., Pinho, O., & Ferreira, I. M. (2019). Carcinogenic Effects of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Modulation by Coffee Compounds. In Coffee (pp. 567-578).
  15. [15]   Lamichhane, D., Collins, C., Constantinescu, F., Walitt, B., Pettinger, M., Parks, C., & Howard, B. V. (2019). Coffee and Tea Consumption in Relation to Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Cohort. JCR: Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, 25(3), 127-132.
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Story first published: Tuesday, October 1, 2019, 18:00 [IST]
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