Decaf coffee: Good or bad?
P.C: National Coffee Association
Mostly everybody likes to kick off their day with that fantastic cup of joe. Be it our morning ritual to grind the coffee beans or getting excited with that aroma and flavour, we never seem to get enough of the experience.
Most people consume coffee for that pure caffeine rush. Some prefer decaf coffee and others consume coffee for its health benefits.
Now the bigger question is whether we can still get many of the reported health benefits from consuming decaf coffee especially if we are sensitive to caffeine.
The answer is YES.
Decaf coffee nutrition offers many of the same health benefits as caffeinated coffee nutrition. What matters is how decaf coffee is processed?
Let’s understand, what is decaf coffee?
Decaf coffee, also known as decaffeinated coffee, is a coffee that comes from coffee beans with their caffeine removed, so all flavours and oil are completely removed. “Because caff-eine is responsible for the flavour, the decaffeination process restores the flavouring of the coffee beans.
Here’s an overview of how the process is carried out. The unroasted beans are soaked in water to dissolve the caffeine, then it follows either of the three primary methods of decaffeination:
This one involves the use of chemicals such as Methylene chloride, which is the same chemical used in paint removers or ethyl acetate. This chemical is either added to the mixture of coffee and water mixture or removing the water from the beans and adding them to the water mixture. Then the last part involves evaporating the water, so the caffeine content is gone but the flavour remains.”
Swiss Water Process
This one uses a charcoal filter to remove caffeine from the water without using any harmful chemicals.
Liquid Carbon Dioxide
This process involves using liquid carbon dioxide to dissolve the caffeine in the water and coffee bean mixture. This process doesn’t use any chemicals to get rid of the caffeine.
Is decaf coffee, caffeine-free?
Another interesting characteristic of decaf coffee is that it isn’t technically caffeine-free. So, there is how much caffeine in decaf coffee?
It contains approximately 3 milligrams of caffeine per cup. This is quite low compared to a standard cup of coffee, which contains 80 to 120 milligrams of caffeine, depending on the coffee type, preparation method and cup size.
However, if you are very sensitive to caffeine, this small amount could still have an impact.
Is decaf coffee good or bad for health?
This is a broad question with many factors to consider.
1) Important factor is how sensitive you are to caffeine in general. We all possess this specific enzyme called Sipe 1a2, which essentially dictates how well we metabolize caffeine.
If you metabolize caffeine more slowly, you will be impacted more intensely by caffeine than someone who metabolizes caffeine faster. How well we metabolize caffeine dictates how much caffeine we can consume and tolerate.
2) Another interesting perspective – decaf coffee when compared to caffeinated coffee is that it won’t affect the chemical called adenosine in your nervous system. Adenosine helps modulate your sleeping and waking cycles. When you’re awake throughout the day adenosine accumulates in the brain. As the day carries on, you begin to feel drowsy and sleepy. Thus, sending us signal throughout our body that it is time for rest.
When you consume caffeine, it binds to adenosine receptors. This binding results in your brain not detecting adenosine. Thus, keeping brain activity engaged and alert.
3) We often hear that caffeine in coffee negatively impacts female hormone. In a recent 2016 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers conducted a study where they looked at the association between total caffeine and coffee intake and its relation to the severity of PMS symptoms.
The researchers discovered was that there was no elevation in PMS symptoms and breast tenderness with caffeine intake from coffee.
4) When it comes to coffee enemas, decaf coffee isn’t nearly as effective for the enema. Because caffeine, theophylline and theobromine stimulate the relaxation of smooth muscles causing dilation of blood vessels and bile ducts.
5) Decaf coffee benefits from all the research surrounding coffee and its vast health benefits such as helps lower the risk of diabetes, protects the liver, aids cardiovascular health, boosts brain function, and more.
Risks and Side-effects
Associated side-effects with decaf coffee aren’t as well-studied. Most of the literature has only been done on caffeinated coffee. Stemming beyond caffeine, some of the common side effects of coffee are its effects on nutrient interactions and non-heme iron absorption.
Researchers have found that for every - one cup of coffee consumed, the risk factors for hip fractures increased. This higher hip fracture risk could pertain to how coffee decreases calcium absorption by roughly four to six milligrams of calcium loss per cup of coffee.
Another area of concern, especially for females, is coffee’s ability to bind to non-heme iron, thus blunting the body’s ability from absorbing iron. One cup of coffee lowers iron absorption from a hamburger meal by 39 per cent.
Coffee is one of the healthiest beverages on the planet. It is loaded with antioxidants and linked to a reduced risk of all sorts of serious diseases.
However, not everyone can drink coffee. For some people, caffeine can cause problems. For these individuals, decaf is an excellent way to enjoy coffee without the side effects of too much caffeine.