How Your Body Reacts to Daily Decaf Coffee Intake


Decaf coffee is popular for people who want less caffeine. It has almost no caffeine compared to regular coffee but still tastes similar. People often wonder if it’s unhealthy.

Decaf coffee isn’t just enjoyable; it also has antioxidants that could be good for your heart, blood sugar, and gut. Keep reading to find out more about its health benefits and possible downsides.

How Is Decaf Coffee Made?

Decaf coffee is made differently from regular coffee. There are three main ways to remove the caffeine:

  1. Chemical solvents are used to strip away the caffeine from soaked coffee beans. Most of the chemicals are washed off, and the FDA checks to make sure it’s safe.
  2. The Swiss Water Process doesn’t use chemicals. Instead, the beans are soaked in hot water to remove the caffeine; then the water is filtered for reuse.
  3. The supercritical carbon dioxide method involves soaking the beans in water and then exposing them to heated carbon dioxide. The gas grabs the caffeine and then evaporates.

The FDA makes sure all these methods are safe to use.

Health Benefits of Decaf Coffee

Healthier Gut Microbiome

Just like regular coffee, decaf coffee has antioxidants that might help your gut. Lauren Manaker, a registered dietitian, says decaf coffee could help good gut bacteria grow because of its high phenolic compound content. These compounds can be good for your colon and might help fight inflammation.

While both types of coffee might make you need to go to the bathroom, decaf coffee might not increase stomach acid as much as regular coffee. This could be better for people with acid reflux.

Improved Liver Function

Drinking more regular coffee seems to be linked with healthier liver enzyme levels. Some studies suggest this might not be because of caffeine, but rather because of antioxidants like phenolic compounds.

One big study found that both regular and decaf coffee might help keep liver enzymes healthy. This makes researchers think it’s not just about caffeine.

In an animal study, decaf coffee showed potential to protect against a liver condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This disease happens when the liver collects too much fat.

Although this study was on animals, researchers believe decaf coffee might help because of its effects on the gut. A healthy gut barrier is important for preventing NAFLD, and decaf coffee might support that.

Better Fasting Blood Sugar

Fasting blood sugar is a test to check your blood sugar level after not eating for a while. Drinking decaf coffee, which has antioxidants called chlorogenic acids, could lower fasting blood sugar by about 4% to 5%.

Studies show that these antioxidants are more in regular decaf coffee, not mixed blends.

Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

There’s a lot of research on how regular coffee affects heart health, but not as much on decaf coffee. However, some studies suggest that decaf coffee might lower the risk of heart disease.

One study found that drinking decaf coffee, as well as regular coffee, might be linked to a lower chance of getting heart disease. Surprisingly, people who drank 1 to 3 cups of decaf coffee per day had the lowest risk of heart disease.

Reduced Risk of Premature Death

Another good thing about decaf coffee is it might lower the risk of dying early. Research has found that people who drink decaf coffee tend to live longer. In one study that lasted about 12 years, fewer people who drank 2 to 3 cups of decaf coffee per day died compared to those who drank more or less decaf coffee. But remember, this study only watched what happened without changing anything, so we can’t say for sure if drinking decaf coffee makes you live longer. We need more studies to look into this more.

Nutrition Facts

Decaf coffee is quite similar to regular coffee in terms of nutrition, except it has much less caffeine. Despite being called “decaf,” most decaf coffees still have a bit of caffeine in them, usually around 8 to 10 milligrams per cup, though some have as little as 2 milligrams. The exact amount depends on the size and brand.

Decaf coffee doesn’t have any calories, but it does contain some important nutrients, similar to regular coffee. For instance, an 8-ounce cup provides about 128 milligrams of potassium and nearly 12 milligrams of magnesium, which is roughly 3% of the recommended daily intake for each. Also, decaf coffee is rich in antioxidants like phenolic compounds.

Potential Risks

One of the main risks of drinking decaf coffee, similar to regular coffee, is that it can make your teeth turn yellowish. Adding milk might help reduce this effect a bit. However, this staining is more likely if you drink a lot of decaf coffee.

Also, compounds in both regular and decaf coffee might affect how well your body absorbs certain minerals, but the evidence isn’t clear yet. We need more recent and stronger research to fully understand how decaf coffee affects mineral absorption.

For people sensitive to caffeine or those with certain heart issues, drinking decaf coffee regularly might increase the chance of having heart palpitations or irregular heartbeats. If you have any concerns about this, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor.

There are different opinions on whether decaf coffee affects digestive conditions like acid reflux and ulcers compared to regular coffee. Some think decaf might worsen these conditions, while others blame the caffeine in regular coffee.

Remember, even though it’s called decaf, there’s still a bit of caffeine in it, though not much. If you’re really sensitive to caffeine, you might still need to watch how much decaf coffee you drink. A general rule is to stick to no more than two or three cups a day.

When to Choose Decaf over Regular Coffee

When choosing between regular and decaf coffee, the main thing to consider is the caffeine content. If caffeine makes you feel jittery or anxious or worsens any health conditions you have, like anxiety, heart issues, or digestive problems, then decaf might be a better choice. Some conditions that might mean you’re sensitive to caffeine include severe anxiety, certain heart problems, GERD, kidney issues, seizures, or being pregnant.

However, if you’re not sensitive to caffeine and don’t have major health issues, regular coffee might be a good option. Many people drink coffee for the energy boost it provides, and caffeine can also help with migraines, athletic performance, depression, and brain function.

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