What if I told you there's a bean that's 500 times higher in antioxidants than vitamin C, would you believe me? What if I also told you that this bean is something you use every day, but throw away the best part. Well, research is showing that both of these "what ifs" are in fact true.
You may have guessed that I'm talking about the coffee bean. After all, it's probably the only bean you use every day. Unfortunately, we always throw out the best part of the bean after we brew our coffee.
A study conducted by researchers from the University of Granada found that not only is the coffee bean very high in vitamin C, it also can serve as a powerful prebiotic and antimicrobial. So it's good for your gut and for fighting disease.
In this study, the researchers wanted to see if the "waste" products of brewing coffee have any nutritional uses. The waste we typically think of with coffee beans is the unused coffee grounds. But there's also something called the silverskin. This is the outer layer of the bean that's removed after drying and roasting. You don't usually see this part of the bean. Together, we throw away more than two billion metric tons of coffee waste each year.
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The researchers found that coffee grounds and silverskins are remarkably high in fiber. They also have phenolic compounds that contain the antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. It's the coffee grounds that have 500 times more antioxidant power than vitamin C.
Lead researcher Jose Angel Rufian Henares said, "They also contain high levels of melanoidins, which are produced during the roasting process and give coffee its brown color." Melanoidins are powerful antimicrobials.
"The biological properties of these melanoidins could be harnessed for a range of practical applications, such as preventing harmful pathogens from growing in food products," Rufian Henares said.
Unfortunately, you can't just eat coffee grounds and silverskins. They're not really edible, not to mention not very appetizing. However, you can eat the coffee bean, though most people don't care for the taste. Chocolate-covered coffee beans are very tasty and addicting. But you'll have to limit the number you eat, as each chocolate-covered bean contains about 12 mgs of caffeine. Eating three beans will give you the same amount as a can of Coca-Cola. Eat too many and you'll have a massive caffeine rush, which can cause all sorts of problems from rapid heartbeat to insomnia, heartburn, headaches, and more.
So be on the lookout for supplements that contain nutrients derived from coffee grounds. We'll begin seeing them in the coming years. When they finally make it to market, you might be able to get the benefits of coffee without having to drink it.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.
“Used coffee grounds are a rich source of healthful antioxidants,” American Chemical Society, January 9, 2013.