Coffee is among the most preferred beverages in the world. It has been a favorite drink for many people around the globe for centuries.
Although many people like drinking coffee due to the effects offered by its caffeine content, some people limit their daily caffeine intake for health or personal reasons. If you’re among such people, switching to decaf coffee would be the best option.
Decaf coffee offers numerous benefits like regular caffeinated coffee, only that it has a much lower caffeine content. In this article, you’ll learn more about decaf coffee, including where it comes from, its health benefits, health risks, and whether it’s better than regular coffee.
Where Does Decaffeinated Coffee Come From?
Decaf coffee is also known as decaffeinated coffee. So what is decaf coffee? In short, decaf coffee refers to coffee whose caffeine content is removed by at least 97 perfect. Thus, it’s not entirely caffeine-free but its caffeine content is almost insignificant.
There’re many methods used to remove much of the caffeine content from whole coffee beans. The most popular decaffeination methods include carbon dioxide, activated charcoal filter, water, and organic solvents.
Upon decaffeination, the coffee beans are roasted to various roast levels and ground to different grind sizes as needed. Regardless of decaffeination, decaf coffee has a nutritional value that’s almost similar to that of regular coffee. However, decaf coffee has a relatively milder smell and taste than regular coffee. Also, its color may be slightly different based on the decaffeination method used. Thus, decaf coffee is more ideal for individuals who dislike the smell and bitter taste of regular coffee.
Caffeine Content in Decaf Coffee
It’s worth noting that decaf coffee isn’t entirely caffeine-free. Decaf coffee contains a little amount of caffeine, which is approximately 3 milligrams per cup. Research shows that a 6-ounce cup of decaffeinated coffee contains about 0 to 7 milligrams of caffeine. Regular coffee contains approximately 70 to 140 milligrams of caffeine. The exact amount depends on the cup size, coffee type, and the brewing method used.
Decaffeinated Coffee Health Information
So what is decaf coffee good for? Well, there’re numerous health benefits of drinking decaf including:
- Contains essential nutrients
Decaf coffee contains several essential nutrients. A cup of decaf coffee contains 2.4 percent magnesium, 2.5 percent niacin (vitamin B3), and 4.8 percent potassium. These percentages are based on the recommended daily intake. Although these amounts might seem little, they can easily add up if you consume at least 3 cups of decaf coffee daily.
- Rich in antioxidants
Generally, decaf contains the same amount of antioxidants you’d find in regular coffee. However, the exact amount may be lower in decaf by about 15 percent. The difference is due to the little amount of antioxidants lost during decaffeination.
Its main antioxidants include polyphenols and hydrocinnamic acids. These are the same antioxidants you’ll find in regular coffee. Antioxidants are beneficial in that they neutralize free radicals, which are reactive compounds that damage body cells. Thus, antioxidants prevent oxidative damage of body cells, thereby preventing diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. For instance, research shows that drinking decaf coffee is linked to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, whereby each cup of decaf reduces the risk by about 7 percent.
- Boosts liver function
Although the link between decaf on liver function isn’t well studied like in regular coffee, observational studies link decaf to lower levels of liver enzyme. Thus, decaf protects the liver from conditions such as hepatitis or liver disease.
- Prevents premature death
Drinking decaf is linked to a relatively lower likelihood of premature death. Also, decaf is linked to a lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke.
- Prevents neurodegenerative diseases
Besides regular coffee, decaf coffee is also linked to having a positive effect on mental decline related to aging. Thus, drinking decaf can reduce the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Research links this health benefit to chlorogenic acid, which is found in both regular and decaf coffee. Thus, you can enjoy this benefit without consuming caffeine. Regardless, caffeine is also linked to a lower risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases and dementia.
- Reduced acid reflux
Regular coffee often causes acid reflux or heartburn. If you experience this issue after drinking coffee, switching to decaf can eliminate this side effect. Also, research shows that drinking at least 2 cups of decaffeinated coffee daily is linked to a reduced risk of rectal cancer by up to 48 percent.
Why Substitute Regular Coffee with Decaf?
Tolerance to caffeine varies from one person to another. For some individuals, a single cup of java can have terrible side effects while for some people, drinking several cups of java wouldn’t cause any issue. Regardless, it’s advised not to consume more than 400 milligrams of caffeine within a day, which is equivalent of 4 standard cups of java.
Excessive consumption of caffeine can increase blood pressure, which may increase the likelihood of developing stroke and heart disease. Also, excessive caffeine may cause insomnia. Besides, excessive caffeine is linked to anxiety, restlessness, heart arrhythmia, digestive problems, and addiction among other side effects.
If you’re sensitive to caffeine, consider limiting your coffee intake. Instead, switch to decaf coffee, especially if you still want to enjoy other benefits of coffee other than caffeine.
Also, if you’re suffering from a medical condition that requires a caffeine-restricted diet, or you’re taking medications that interact with caffeine, then consider switching to decaf.
Additionally, breastfeeding and pregnant women should reduce their caffeine intake. Such women can substitute coffee with decaf. Individuals experiencing trouble sleeping or anxiety should also drink decaf instead of coffee.
Decaf Coffee Health Concerns
Existing research concludes that decaf doesn’t have any dangerous health effects. Nevertheless, some chemicals used during decaffeination, such as methylene chloride, may have some health concerns. For instance, research shows that inhaling methylene chloride can temporarily weaken the nervous system. As a result, it may affect eye-hand coordination and attention. Also, mild exposure to methylene chloride can cause symptoms like:
- Wheezing or coughing
However, it’s generally safe for the decaffeinated product to have a maximum of 0.001 percent or 10 ppm of remnant methylene chloride.
Generally, decaf coffee has a milder fragrance and taste than regular coffee due to its minimal caffeine content. Decaf is a great choice for anyone who doesn’t like the pungent smell and bitter taste of regular coffee. Also, decaf is a perfect drink for anyone sensitive to caffeine and anyone who’s trying to reduce their caffeine intake due to personal preference, addiction, or medical reasons. Besides, it’s loaded with important nutrients and antioxidants. Thus, if you don’t want to entirely forego coffee but you have to avoid consuming caffeine, decaf coffee is the perfect beverage for you.