Browsing the coffee section at a hypermarket, you will discover a wide range of coffee products as well as beverages masquerading as coffee. But if you’ve known coffee only as a “wake me up” drink, nothing will puzzle you more than decaf coffee.
The point of drinking Decaf coffee is to avail the benefits of coffee consumption while minimizing the ill effects of caffeine dependence and overuse. Health benefits associated with decaf coffee include reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, mood regulation, weight control, and improved focus.
In this article, we will dive deeper into the benefits of decaf coffee alongside the ill effects of consuming more decaf than you should. You will also discover how it fares compared to a good old caffeinated cup of joe.
Benefits of Decaf Coffee
Helps Get Rid of Caffeine Addiction
A typical 8 ounce (oz) cup of decaf coffee generally contains 2mg of caffeine, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), but the caffeine content can vary from brand to brand. An 8 oz cup of regular coffee, on the other hand, usually contains 80–100 mg of caffeine, according to the FDA.
This shows that although decaf coffee is not 100% caffeine-free, it contains a significantly lower amount than regular coffee, which prevents caffeine overdose and habit formation of its intake. Since caffeine is a stimulant, a lower intake also prevents side effects related to excess intake, such as anxiety, restlessness, tremors, irregular heartbeat, and trouble sleeping. Decaf coffee eliminates the need for caffeine and can effectively improve energy and mood in the long run.
It Is Low In Calories
Decaffeinated coffee contains zero calories per 8 ounces (240 ml) and, if consumed naturally, can help with weight loss. However, its potential weight regulation benefits are lost with the addition of cream or sugar, which significantly raises the calorie content.
Studies carried out in this regard have pointed out that some compounds in decaffeinated coffee can not only enable fat reduction and steady weight loss but can also regulate blood glucose levels. Drinking it in place of higher-calorie beverages such as sodas can also prove extremely effective for weight loss.
Placebo Effect For Focus And Alertness
The placebo effect in terms of caffeine refers to an elevation in performance produced by the mere perception of its consumption without actually consuming it. Research put forth by the University of East London entails that it is quite possible for the buzz we get with the intake of caffeine to be only in our heads. If we expect a certain effect from caffeinated coffee, we will act accordingly and experience it even with the intake of decaffeinated coffee.
Therefore, the placebo effect of caffeine can be used for attaining maximum levels of alertness and focus, all this while saving ourselves from the harmful effects of caffeine. But for this, you will need to have your friends secretly switch your coffee to decaf at an undisclosed point within the next month or two to get a true placebo situation.
Reduced Risk Of Cardiovascular Diseases
Caffeine is usually considered to be an aggravating factor for cardiovascular diseases due to its stimulating effects. Recent studies have shown that decaf may help reduce the risk of fatal cardiovascular diseases and can prove better for your health, especially if you have a family history of heart problems.
Lower In Acidity
Coffee is quite acidic and causes heartburn and other uncomfortable side effects, which is a common complaint of a majority of coffee drinkers. Decaf coffee boasts the major benefit of being low in acidic content due to the decaffeination process.
A decrease in the intake of acidic foods on a daily basis can reduce flare-ups of acid reflux and other side effects. Decaf coffee also holds major benefits for those who suffer from chronic heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Reduces Risk Of Diabetes
Over 1 in every 10 Americans, which comes up to 34.2 million, suffer from diabetes, and approximately 1 in 3; 88 million American adults in total, are prediabetic. Studies have linked the intake of coffee, both regular and decaf, to a diminished risk of type 2 diabetes.
However, it is not just caffeine that lowers this risk, as decaffeinated coffee can prove beneficial without the added risk of caffeine intake. Another large observational study suggests a connection between drinking decaf coffee and reduced liver enzyme levels, which can have a protective effect as well.
Reduces Risk Of Cancer
In 2018, the number of cancer-related deaths around the world reached 9.5 million, along with 18.1 million new cases. This number is expected to elevate to 29.5 million by 2040, with the number of deaths reaching 16.4 million.
Although WHO added coffee to its list of risk factors more than 25 years ago, the decision was reversed, with newer studies finding no substantial evidence relating coffee intake to increased cancer risk. In fact, a study that was published in 2017 showed that “drinking two cups of coffee a day may lower the risk for several cancer types, including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, liver cancer, and head and neck cancers.”
Another report in Cancer Epidemiology found out that “people who drank 2 or more cups of decaffeinated coffee a day had a lower risk of colon and rectal cancer, compared to people who didn’t drink decaffeinated coffee”.
Decaf vs. Regular Coffee
Studies show that the consumption of coffee is 7% more than regular and free tap water, which is quite a lot. Although caffeine has some health benefits, it also has its fair share of negative side effects, which include an increase in depression and anxiety, ulcers, and heartburn.
A study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology and cited in the article “Decaf Coffee Isn’t Caffeine Free” said that a cup of decaf, on average, can hold about one-twentieth of the caffeine contained by a normal brewed coffee and is, therefore, an effective alternative.
Pros of Drinking Decaf Coffee
Escape From The Negative Side Effects Of Caffeine
The process of removing caffeine from coffee, cocoa, and tea is called decaffeination. The negative side effects that come from caffeine intake can be efficiently escaped from with the intake of decaf, which is its biggest benefit.
Prevention Of Caffeine Induced Health Problems
Since caffeine is a stimulant, diuretic, and acidic, it can induce insomnia, heart palpitations, and other related health problems. An excess of caffeine intake can also aggravate some pre-existing health problems such as heartburn, bowel problems, or trouble while sleeping. Decaffeinated coffee can be an excellent way of reducing the effects of caffeine without completely removing coffee from your routine.
Prevention Of Anxiety And Digestive Problems
Although coffee does not cause anxiety, it sure can worsen symptoms in people who are either already prone to anxiety or suffer from restlessness and nervousness. Switching to decaf coffee can prevent this common side effect. Studies have also found coffee to have laxative effects with the induction of gastrocolic response in some people, which can also be avoided with decaf.
Cons of Drinking Decaf Coffee
Problematic Chemical Composition
Decaf coffee is usually made with methyl chloride, exposure to high concentrations of which can have severe neurological effects. Although small amounts are not dangerous, prolonged exposure to such chemicals can also cause other health-related complications.
An Increase In Cholesterol
Although some studies dismiss the effect of decaf coffee on cholesterol, many argue in favor of this risk. The findings are inconclusive for now due to a lack of substantial evidence, but there is a risk of decaf coffee causing an increase in cholesterol.
Pros Of Regular Coffee
Improvement In Performance And Energy
Coffee contains caffeine which can enhance mental clarity, energy, and performance. It also holds the power to improve physical performance and can also boost muscle output.
Contains Essential Nutrients
One cup of coffee contains a number of essential nutrients, which include Riboflavin or vitamin B2 (11% of the Reference Daily Intake), Pantothenic acid or vitamin B5 (6% of the RDI), Manganese, and potassium (3% of the RDI), and Magnesium and niacin or vitamin B3 (2% of the RDI).
Cons Of Regular Coffee
Effects Of Caffeine
Caffeine affects sleep being a stimulant, and is also addictive. It can also put additional stress on the liver’s detoxification ability, inhibit the absorption of iron, affect the production of new red blood cells, increase calcium excretion from the body, thereby affecting bone health, sway sperm and egg health, cause dehydration and destroy B vitamins.
Best Coffee Grounds For Home-Made Decaf
Guatemala MWP Decaf
Guatemala MWP Decaf is an organic and mountain water processed decaf infused with the silky flavors of an orange twist, a finish of brown sugar, and none of the caffeine. Shade-grown under guava, plantain, and banana trees and dried through a patio and solar drying machine, this coffee brings the taste of the jungle to you and does not compromise your sleep schedule as well.
It is made by ASOBAGRI or The Asociacion Barillense de Agricultores, which has over 1,200 cooperative members from approximately 30 small villages in the Huehuetenango region, surrounded by the Cuchumatanes Mountains and the Maxbal Forest Reserve.
Lifeboost Coffee Organic Decaf
Lifeboost Coffee Organic Decaf is a 100% chemical-free Swiss Water Processed decaf coffee low in both caffeine and acidity. It is sourced organically from the Nicaraguan mountains and boasts a smooth, balanced flavor often described as ‘caramel’ and ‘nutty.’
These 100%-Arabica single-origin beans are shade-grown, handpicked, spring water washed, and grown at high altitudes, which infuses it with an outstanding taste without risking the health benefits.
Volcanica Decaf House Blend
Volcanica Decaf House Blend comes from Volcanica Coffee which is a family-run company specializing in high-quality gourmet coffees. Their beans are sourced from areas defined by rich, volcanic growing soil and fairly high altitudes, which adds to their quality and taste.
This decaf House Blend boasts an exquisite concoction of Central and South American beans, which are medium roasted once you place your order to ensure the utmost level of freshness. This decaf is widely known for its strong and bold profile, which is sweet at the same time and has a rich, full body.
Decaf coffee has many health benefits and stands out mainly because it can protect habitual coffee drinkers from the ill effects of being over-caffeinated. But none of the ‘health benefits’ might matter. Ultimately, coffee isn’t just a “wake me up” drink; it is an acquired taste. And the actual point of drinking decaf coffee might be just that it tastes great.