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Is Decaffeinated Coffee Good For You?

Is decaf coffee safe and how is it made?

Decaffeinated coffee also called decaf coffee has almost the same taste and appearance as regular coffee. However, on the inside, the two varieties of coffee have different levels of caffeine. At the moment, there are is scientific research that shows that drinking decaf coffee has negative health benefits. Interestingly, some studies even show that taking decaf coffee might be beneficial for your health. In the end, we will show you some potential health benefits of decaf coffee.

What is the process for decaffeinating coffee?

Decaf coffee, like normal coffee, starts with green, unroasted beans. The hard beans are warmed and soaked in liquid in one of four ways: water alone, water and solvents (most typically methylene chloride or ethyl acetate) applied directly or indirectly, or water and "supercritical carbon dioxide."

All four techniques are safe, as the beans are washed, steamed, and roasted at temperatures that evaporate all of the liquids used in decaffeination.

How does Decaf differ from regular coffee?

How does Decaf differ from regular coffee

The most important difference between decaf coffee and regular coffee is the caffeine content. The name decaf is the shortened version of decaffeinated which means coffee without caffeine. Therefore, unlike regular coffee, decaf coffee usually has very little to no caffeine in it.

The process of removing caffeine from coffee beans is called decaffeination. Usually, the process happens before the roasting of the beans although recent studies suggest that decaffeination might be faster with roasted decaf coffee beans.

Manufacturers usually subject the coffee beans to a range of treatments to achieve little to no caffeine content. That is, they soak or steam the beans in a combination of water and any of the following:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Ethyl acetate
  • Methylene chloride
  • Supercritical carbon dioxide

Caffeine is a water-soluble substance, which is why manufacturers use water in the process. Unfortunately, caffeine is not the only water-soluble substance present in the beans during caffeine extraction. Coffee beans also contain other beneficial compounds like sugar, proteins, and many more that might get lost with the water if the beans are soaked for too long.

To prevent losing these important nutrients into the water, manufacturers add the above chemicals to speed up the process of decaffeination. Asides from reducing the loss of the non-caffeine compounds, the chemicals also preserve the flavour of the coffee beans (before you go any further, have you seen our monthly coffee boxes).

Is decaf coffee dangerous for your health?

At the moment, there is no single evidence to prove that decaf coffee alone has any harmful effects. There was a study in 2017 to review coffee consumption. At the end of the study, the researchers concluded that there were decaf coffee did not have any harmful health benefits. Similarly, a combined study comparing regular coffee with decaffeinated coffee did not show any difference in serum cholesterol levels. That means, both regular and decaf coffee has the same effects on the heart.

However, scientists say that the issues that the health risks associated with decaf coffee are usually due to the manufacturing process. For instance, some scientists say that the brewing method could determine whether the coffee would raise cholesterol in the body or not. Usually, all types of coffee contain a substance called diterpene cafestol that is said to raise cholesterol levels in the body. However, this substance is only present in coffee when it is unfiltered.

Also, there have been concerns that the methylene chloride used in the decaffeination process could have serious health risks. In small amounts of up to 200 parts per million, methylene chloride can slow down the activity of the central nervous system, impairing a person's hand/eye coordination.

To ensure that people are safe, the FDA approves the use of methylene chloride for decaffeination so far the final product does not contain any more than 10 parts per million of methylene chloride residue.

How much caffeine is in decaf coffee?

Even with its name, decaf coffee still contains some amounts of caffeine. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a small 80z cup of decaf coffee has up to 2 mg of caffeine in it.

However, different brands have different concentrations of caffeine in their coffee. Some studies have shown that about 6 oz coffee cup of decaf coffee can contain up to 7 mg of caffeine. However, the average across brands is about 3mg per cup.

Compared with regular coffee, the average of 3mg is almost negligible. Regular coffee usually contains between 70 to 140 mg of caffeine. Depending on the beans, the cup size and the preparation method, the quantity could even be more.

Therefore, while decaf coffee does not mean 100% caffeine-free, the amount of caffeine in it is very little.

The interesting part is, green and black teas even contain more caffeine than decaf coffee. A regular cup of 8oz black or green tea usually gets you between 30–50 mg of caffeine.

What are the health benefits of decaf coffee?

What are the health benefits of decaf coffee

Before you go any further, you need to know that coffee is one of the most nutritious beverages you can consume. Both regular and decaf coffee have huge benefits for human health. Research suggests that both of them have several compounds in that can reduce one's chances of developing some cancers.

One of those studies suggest that drinking coffee regularly can reduce a person's risk of developing cancers like

  • Endometrial cancer
  • Skin cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Oral cancer
  • Leukaemia
  • Liver cancer

While several studies have examined the health benefits of coffee in general, only a few have done the same on the specific benefits of decaf coffee. Therefore, understanding the health benefits of decaf coffee can be complex. For instance, one can not be sure if removing caffeine lowers the beneficial effects of coffee.

But then, a few scientists have been able to link regular decaf coffee intake with low mortality rate and death from cardiovascular causes. According to these scientists, people who drank between 2 to four cups were at lower risks compared with others.

Also, a recent observational study suggests that decaf coffee might have protective effects on the liver. Besides, studies show that decaf coffee can reduce acid reflux problems that are common symptoms with taking regular coffee.

You should check out our guide to the best non-dairy milk alternatives.

Who should choose decaf over regular coffee?

People tolerate caffeine differently. While some people might consider the caffeine in one cup of coffee too much, some others might feel the need to take more. While tolerance to caffeine usually varies, doctors advise that healthy adults should not take more than 400 mg of caffeine daily. That is about four cups of coffee.

Too much caffeine can easily lead to loss of sleep (see does decaf coffee help you sleep), high blood pressure and some other symptoms. Altogether, this can increase one's chances of getting a stroke or heart disease. Too much caffeine can also cause problems in the central nervous system. As such, people who are sensitive to caffeine will likely feel anxiety, restlessness, irregular heartbeats, digestive issues and lack of sleep.

Therefore, doctors usually advise people who are sensitive to caffeine to limit their coffee intake. In the alternative, they can take decaf coffee or Tea without cutting their coffee consumption.

Decaf coffee is also recommended for people with medical conditions that require restricted caffeine diets. This includes people that are on special medications that interact with caffeine.

In addition, pregnant and breastfeeding women need to limit their caffeine intake for the health of their babies. Similarly, health specialists advise children, adolescents and people with anxiety problems or insomnia to lowering their caffeine intake. For people who fall in all these categories, decaf coffee comes as a safer option.

When it comes to caffeine, how much is too much?

Regulators and health authorities in the United States and around the world have established that moderate caffeine consumption, up to 400mg per day, or around 4-5 cups of coffee, can be part of a healthy diet for most persons. People with particular medical issues may need to follow different rules.

When considering your caffeine intake, keep in mind that caffeine can be found in a variety of meals and beverages, so think about all of your options. Because everyone's body is different, check health guidelines from reputable sources, pay attention to how your body reacts to caffeine, and visit your personal physician if you have any concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is decaffeinated coffee better for you than regular coffee?

Now for the big question: which is healthier: decaf or normal coffee? Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer, "since it relies on the individual who drinks it. Caffeine consumption during pregnancy, for example, has been linked to a greater chance of miscarriage." Caffeine can also cause unpleasant side effects in certain people, such as anxiety and sleep problems. On the other side, he emphasises the numerous health benefits that coffee provides.

However, both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee are generally considered healthy beverages, so you should feel comfortable experimenting to see what works best for your wellness routine. Whichever one you choose, you'll receive some significant health benefits.

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Why Decaf Coffee Is Just as Healthy as Regular Coffee

It's the end of the day, and you haven't had enough coffee to keep Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, prostate cancer, or Type II diabetes at bay. Perhaps a cup of decaffeinated coffee can help you relax. Is decaffeinated coffee, on the other hand, as healthy as caffeinated coffee? Yes, but only in a limited sense. Fortunately, coffee is high in biologically active chemicals that contribute to its scent, flavour, and colour, whether or not it contains caffeine. Some of them have been looked into to see which ingredients in the drink are responsible for the drink's well-documented health benefits.

Caffeic acid, as its name suggests, is found in coffee, although it is chemically unrelated to caffeine and has none of its stimulating effects in the body. It belongs to the phenols, a broad group of compounds present in coffee. Many of these phenols, such as caffeic acid, have mild anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogenic activities that are dose-dependent. 3,5 Dicaffeoylquinic acid also possesses mild anti-oxidant properties and protects against free radicals. According to several recent investigations, 3,5 dicaffeoylquinic acid is a powerful and selective inhibitor of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Chlorogenic acid is an antioxidant as well, and its effects may explain why coffee is thought to be able to prevent type 2 diabetes. Chlorogenic acid can lower the liver's synthesis of glucose as well as the hyperglycemic peak in the blood after sugar consumption. Chlorogenic acid is thought to help the plant protect itself against viruses, bacteria, and fungi, and it may also help people. It is added to chewing gum in Norway, where it is sold as Svetol, because of its alleged health benefits.

Ferulic acid is an antioxidant that neutralises free radicals and may protect our bodies from oxidative damage caused by UV light exposure when we fail to use sunscreen. Ferulic acid can also lower blood glucose levels and cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which could explain the potential health benefits of coffee, decaffeinated or not. Finally, ferulic acid is a powerful anti-inflammatory that has been demonstrated in my work to greatly reduce brain inflammation, which is suspected to have a role in the development of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.

Quinides are lipids formed during the roasting of coffee beans. According to some research, these fats may help the body control blood sugar levels by improving insulin's ability to remove sugar from the blood.

Although trigonelline may help to prevent dental cavities by preventing the bacterium Streptococcus mutans from sticking to teeth, this does not mean that you should use coffee as a mouthwash. Above 160 degrees, trigonelline becomes unstable and spontaneously changes to vitamin B3, or niacin. Trigonelline is also converted to niacin during the roasting of coffee beans. Thus, a few cups of coffee per day can offer nearly half of the necessary daily intake for this vitamin; coffee's potential to lower blood cholesterol levels may be due to its presence in the beverage.

Caffeinated coffee can raise blood pressure and put persons with cardiovascular disease at risk; however, decaffeinated coffee does not have this danger. So go ahead and drink up, knowing that your cup of decaf is efficiently safeguarding your brain and body.

What is the caffeine content of decaf coffee?

Coffee beans are decaffeinated to eliminate 97 percent or more of the caffeine. A average cup of decaf coffee contains approximately 2 mg of caffeine, whereas a typical cup of regular coffee contains approximately 95 mg.

What exactly is decaf coffee?

Decaf coffee is the same as regular coffee, but the caffeine has been reduced to some extent. Caffeine levels in decaf coffee can vary, just like normal coffee, she explains. Yes, most decaf cups still have some caffeine in them.

For example, an eight-ounce Starbucks Pike Place decaf includes 15 milligrammes of caffeine, whereas a six-ounce Maxwell House decaf only one to five mg.

Decaf typically has about three to four milligrammes of caffeine per cup. (About 97 percent of the material is removed by brands.)

Don't forget to check out how to brew V60 coffee and how to make whipped coffee.