We all love and adore that morning cup of сoffee. Whether it’s from the aroma of the bold, robust flavor or the ritual of making the coffee and grinding our own beans, it’s a nostalgic experience, one in which we seem to never get enough.
Many people consume coffee for that pure caffeine rush, some prefer decaf coffee and other individuals consume coffee for its health benefits. Either way, coffee is one of those drinks that will stand the test of time as one of the most consumed beverage throughout the world.
Now the big question is whether we can still get many of the reported health benefits from consuming decaf сoffee, especially if we’re sensitive to caffeine. The answer is yes! Decaf coffee nutrition offers many of the same health benefits as caffeinated coffee nutrition. What matters is the way in which decaf сoffee is processed.
What Is Decaf Coffee?
What exactly is decaf coffee? Decaf coffee stands for decaffeinated сoffee, of course. It’s coffee that has virtually all of the caffeine removed from it. The three processes that remove the caffeine from the coffee bean are through the extraction of water, solvent and/or carbon dioxide. As for which method is best, let’s take a look.
The two current methods of decaf coffee are the Swiss water method and carbon dioxide extraction method. The first process is called the Swiss water method. This method was invented in the 1970s. It uses only water and osmosis to remove the caffeine from the coffee beans. The coffee beans are soaked for many hours in water, which helps draw out the caffeine. The next step in this process is that the caffeine-rich water is pretreated through a pretreated charcoal bed to remove the caffeine.
The carbon dioxide method is probably the healthiest method for caffeine removal because it’s able to remove caffeine without any harsh chemicals or solvents. Another benefit to the CO2 extraction method is that it tends to keep its infamous flavor profile and aroma. Both the Swiss water method and CO2 extraction method do lose some of the volatile coffee oils, but at the end of the day, they’re chemical-free, which is a big plus.
Another rather interesting characteristic of decaf сoffee is that technically it isn’t caffeine-free. So how much caffeine in decaf coffee is there? It contains roughly three milligrams of caffeine per cup. This is quite low compared to a standard cup of coffee, which contains 80–120 milligrams of caffeine. However, if you are very sensitive to caffeine, this small amount could still have an impact. And of course, you don’t want to overdo it with either regular or decaf coffee — or other caffeine products — in order to avoid caffeine overdose.
Decaf Coffee Benefits
With all the research surrounding coffee and its vast health benefits, the real question to ask is do the same health benefits apply to decaf coffee? The answer is yes!
1. Helps Lower Risk of Diabetes
In a recent study from the American Diabetes Association, researchers found that both caffeinated coffee and decaf coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk for diabetes. The study suggests that some of the components in both types of coffee, like lignans and chlorogenic acid, account for many beneficial glucose metabolism effects, as well as lessening oxidative stress in the body. Both regular black coffee and decaf coffee are rich in magnesium, which has been associated with a decreased risk for diabetes and improved cardiovascular and brain function.
2. Protects the Liver
Another study, showcased the hepatoprotective benefits that coffee possess, regardless of caffeine content. Researchers noted that the coffee diterpenes and various oils, like cafestol and kahweol, seem to showcase protective effects against a certain toxin called aflatoxin, which negatively harms the liver. The cafestol and kahweol oils encourage the production of glutathione, which is a potent antioxidant that enhances liver function and boosts detoxification pathways in the body.
3. Aids Cardiovascular Health
Another wonderful benefit to both decaf and caffeinated coffee is the positive impact on endothelial function. Endothelial function is critical to cardiovascular health, as it aids in modulating blood flow vasodilation and vasoconstriction, delivering the right amount of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout the body. A dysfunction in the endothelial tissue can lead to an increased risk for heart disease.
However, scientists recently discovered that decaf coffee has less of a positive impact on endothelial function compared to caffeinated coffee in terms of the free radical-scavenging abilities. These researchers suspect this is because the caffeinated coffee hasn’t undergone any of decaffeination process, which tends to strip the coffee of some of its polyphenol content.
Stemming beyond the antioxidant capacity of decaf coffee, it also contains a decent amount of certain minerals and vitamins like magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, sodium and vitamin B3.
4. May Boost Brain Function
Another great highlight to coffee is its impact on brain cognition and psychomotor behavior. One study from Tufts University experimented on aged rats supplemented with a 0.55 percent coffee-pertaining diet. This is equivalent to 10 cups of coffee per day.
The researchers uncovered that the rats that ingested the 0.55 percent сoffee-rich diet displayed better performance in the psychomotor testing and working memory task compared to aged rats fed the control diet. The benefits of caffeine didn’t necessarily account for the better performance in the coffee-rich diet group. This is in part due to the beneficial bioactive polyphenols present in coffee.