Decaf Coffee And Health: Should You Make The Switch?
Caffeinated coffee is said to cause issues such as insomnia, irritability, stomach upset, and fast heartbeat in some people. If you are someone who experiences negative effects like this from caffeine, then you may be thinking about turning to decaf coffee. But does decaf coffee and health benefits go hand in hand?
Your Decaf Coffee May Have Caffeine In It
A study done by the University of Florida, shows that just because your coffee says decaffeinated, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is not a small amount of caffeine in the coffee. ( Source ) In fact, some processes remove around 90% of the caffeine, but still leave the other 10% safely in your cup of decaf. Therefore, drinking too much of certain decaffeinated coffees can cause you to ingest the same amount of caffeine as a cup of regular coffee.
That is important to know if you have health issues that require you to eliminate caffeine completely from your diet. Decaf coffee and health consequences such as irritability or headache, may not go away in your case.
The Negative Side Of Decaf Coffee
Decaf coffee and health consequences can be similar to caffeinated coffee. For instance, decaf coffee still has chemicals in it, called diterpenes, which can raise your cholesterol. They are oily substances that are mostly filtered out when using a filter to make your coffee, however, if you are drinking coffee that hasn’t been filtered (such as having coffee brewed in a press), then the chemicals are still present and have the ability to influence your cholesterol levels negatively. In fact, LDL cholesterol, which is a strong predictor for heart attacks, has been shown to increase when a switch from regular coffee to decaf coffee is made.
Decaf coffee is produced by extracting the caffeine, and these high-heat extraction methods can cause the coffee bean to change its structure and lose important antioxidant compounds that are commonly known as a health bonus of caffeinated coffee. The health benefits lost include cardiovascular protection and reduction in the likelihood of developing diabetes.
Also, decaf coffee is highly acidic. You have probably noticed that decaf coffee packs more punch on your taste buds. That is due to the high acidity level. Too much acid can promote issues such as ulcers, urinary track inflammations, heartburn, bowel issues, and even osteoporosis. Increased acidity can affect bone density negatively by removing minerals from the bone, such as calcium.
The process in which the caffeine is extracted has also raised concerns for many people. Some solvents that are used in the extraction process, such as methylene chloride, have been shown to cause cancer in animals and potential cancer in humans. Methylene chloride can affect the nervous system negatively, and the symptoms can be long-lasting and even permanent with constant exposure. The main issue is that even though the solvents are removed from the coffee beans during the extraction process, there have still been trace amounts found in decaf coffee and tea. The long-term effects of this are not known, and many people are not willing to chance the possibility of getting cancer simply to drink decaf coffee.
Lastly, decaf coffee can interfere with the absorption of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and iron. The chlorgoenic acid found in decaffeinated coffee (also present in caffeinated coffee), affects that body’s ability to absorb iron from food.
The Positive Side Of Decaf Coffee
The research on the positive side of decaf coffee seems to be limited. Essentially, decaffeinated coffee has been altered to remove the caffeine, and all of the natural benefits of the coffee bean are altered as well.
The biggest benefit of decaf coffee is that if too much caffeine is affecting you in a negative way, then decaf coffee and health improvement may go hand in hand. For instance, if you get migraines, insomnia, or the jitters from high amounts of caffeine, then having one cup of a decaf coffee, instead of a caffeinated coffee, may help you eliminate those issues.
However, many studies have found that decaf coffee drinkers still experience negative effects such as tremors or increased heart rate. So, if you find switching to decaf doesn’t help those issues, then you may be highly sensitive to caffeine or the coffee bean in even the smallest amounts, and you may want to eliminate all coffee from your diet completely.