Is Decaf Coffee Good or Bad For You?

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You may have heard about all the health benefits of decaf coffee–mainly that it provides all the aspects of regular coffee but without the caffeine. 

However, is decaf coffee truly that good for you? Here’s a breakdown of all you need to know about decaf coffee so you can make an informed decision about whether to drink it yourself.

Decaffeinated Coffee 101

Whether coffee contains caffeine or not, it does provide some unique benefits. To determine whether decaf coffee is right for you, it’s important to understand the basics of decaf coffee, which include:

  • It still contains a small amount of caffeine and isn’t completely caffeine-free.
  • Due to a reduced amount of caffeine, it offers different health benefits than regular coffee.
  • Decaf coffee goes through a decaffeination process that involves chemicals yet is completely safe.
  • Decaf is a great coffee choice for many different reasons.

Decaf Vs. Regular Coffee Compared

Although decaf does contain a little bit of caffeine, it has a much less amount than regular coffee. While an average cup of coffee holds about 95 mg of caffeine, decaf coffee contains just 2 mg.

In terms of taste and robust flavor, there isn’t much of a difference between decaf and regular coffee–although some people claim that decaf tastes better. 

When you order coffee drinks from your local coffee shop, the taste likely will not be different whether your drink is made from regular coffee or decaf. Really, the main reason why someone would ask for decaf over regular is that they want coffee without a large amount of caffeine.

Benefits of Drinking Decaf Coffee

Decaf coffee does have a little bit of a negative reputation in the coffee world. After all, isn’t the caffeine boost the whole point of drinking coffee? Some people don’t understand the appeal of decaf coffee, but that’s likely because they aren’t familiar with the benefits that come with drinking decaf coffee, which include:

  • It can help lower your risk of diabetes. In some studies, decaf coffee has been shown to reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes in the same way that regular coffee does.

  • It can help lower anxiety. Caffeine is a potent stimulant, and if you drink a lot of regular coffee, this may increase your anxiety and interfere with your sleep. Decaf, on the other hand, does not interfere and may actually help lower your levels of anxiety.

  • It’s full of antioxidants. Although decaf has less caffeine, it still contains just as many antioxidants as regular coffee–as well as all the health benefits those antioxidants provide.

  • It’s lower in acidity. Decaf coffee has less acidity than regular coffee, which means that it won’t lead to heartburn the way regular coffee does. For people looking to lower their risk of heartburn, doctors often recommend switching to decaf coffee.

Downside of Drinking Decaf Coffee

Although decaf coffee does provide health benefits, there are some downsides to drinking it. The biggest downside is that you won’t get the energy boost that you do from regular coffee, so decaf won’t help you feel alert or attentive. It’ll take some time for you to get used to not receiving a buzz from your coffee.

Some other downsides include that since decaf is devoid of caffeine, it won’t speed up your metabolic rate, which helps people lose weight. If you want to drink coffee as a supplement to your weight loss regimen, you’re better off sticking with regular coffee.

Potential Side Effects of Drinking Decaf

One of the biggest realities surrounding decaf coffee is that it needs to be chemically treated in order to take the caffeine out. Caffeine is a natural compound in coffee, so when you drink decaf, you are consuming treated coffee. In the past, coffee was soaked in chemical solvents that contained some toxic ingredients. This is part of the reason why decaf coffee has a bad reputation.

Toxic chemicals have been removed from the decaffeination process, and the decaf coffee you’ll get today is much safer to drink. However, it still comes with some potential side effects, including the potential to raise cholesterol. Decaf also does not quite have as many health benefits as regular coffee does.

Is Drinking Decaffeinated Coffee Bad For You?

Decaffeinated coffee isn’t necessarily “bad” for you–it just depends on what you are trying to get out of your cup of coffee. If you need some of the health benefits that a regular cup of coffee will provide–a boost of energy and mental stimulation, for example–then decaf isn’t for you.

You should also look into how your decaf coffee is treated and what the process was like to remove the caffeine. Decaffeination is safe, but some companies use different chemicals. If you’d like to avoid chemical solvents, make sure you buy decaf coffee that is organic; an organic decaffeination process will not use solvents.

How Much Caffeine Is In Decaf Coffee?

The most important thing to note about decaf coffee is that it’s not completely free of caffeine. No matter the decaffeination process, there is still usually about 2mg of caffeine left in an 8-ounce cup of decaf coffee.

Even though there’s still caffeine left, it is a very small, trace amount. If you need to reduce your caffeine intake, it’s safe to have several cups of decaf coffee without worrying.

The Pros and Cons to Decaf Coffee

The fact that decaf coffee doesn’t contain as much caffeine both provides decaf extra health benefits. However, it also takes away many of the health benefits that regular coffee offers. Decaf coffee can be both good and bad for you–it all depends on what you are looking to get out of your coffee.

For most people, the best thing about decaf is its reduced amount of caffeine. If the caffeine doesn’t matter, you can stick with your regular kind of coffee.

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