USQ research links coffee waste and waistlines

Officially known as ‘spent coffee’, researchers have investigated the properties of leftover coffee grinds to uncover its potential as a functional food – a food that can prevent or reverse disease.

Led by USQ biomedical scientist Professor Lindsay Brown, the research focused on male rats fed a high-carb, high-fat diet over four months, supplemented with five per cent spent coffee grounds during the last eight weeks of the study.

“We found those on the high-carbohydrate, high-fat diet developed metabolic syndrome including abdominal obesity, impaired glucose tolerance and cardiovascular and liver damage,” Professor Brown said.

“When spent coffee grounds were introduced to their diet however, we saw that body weight, abdominal fat, total body fat mass, systolic blood pressure were reduced along with improved glucose tolerance and structure and function of the heart and liver,” he said.

“We also noted changes in gut microbiota that correlated with the reduction in obesity and improvement in glucose tolerance and systolic blood pressure.”

Professor Brown said the results indicated that intervention with spent coffee grounds may be useful for managing obesity and metabolic syndrome by altering the gut microbiota.

“Our study was lucky enough to receive the coffee grounds from the Refectory at USQ’s Toowoomba campus, but if you make your own coffee each morning then collect the grounds, dry it in the oven at 60 degrees for an hour or two and simply add a spoonful to your muffin mix or bread mix,” he said.

“It’s not something that you’re going to notice an overnight change by doing, however it’s likely to decrease obesity and improve your blood pressure too. Aside from the potential health benefits though, it’s great to have found value in food waste.

“Despite there being very little literature on spent coffee, we do know that in Sydney alone more than three-thousand tonnes of coffee waste is produced every year, so it’s exciting to think about the impact diverting that waste away from landfill could have while also assisting with healthier lifestyle choices.

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