Health Benefits of Decaf Coffee
Many of us appreciate a piping-hot cup of joe in the mornings. We often find the time to brew some at home and even in a rush, make way for some servings of it at the nearest Starbucks. However, too much of the stuff can make us jittery and nervous. This is due to the presence of caffeine, which appears in the coffee naturally. It is a stimulant which provides the pep and energy we feel after guzzling a cup.
Then again, too much of the stuff can bring about certain health problems that we have to deal with. In order to curb its effects, decaf coffee was made as a safer, healthier alternative for regular coffee. Here are some important facts you need to be aware of if you want to include decaffeinated coffee in your routine.
What is Decaf Coffee Exactly?
Decaf or decaffeinated coffee is not strictly caffeine-free. How much caffeine is in decaf coffee though? According to the USDA, the decaf type only has to be 97 percent free of caffeine. Thus, a standard 12 oz. cup of this coffee, which typically comes with caffeine at 180 milligrams, now contains a mere 5.4 milligrams of caffeine.
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Why Cut Down on Caffeine?
Caffeine is the primary psychoactive component in coffee. It’s a compound that is derived naturally from lots of plants and not only from coffee beans. Caffeine is present even in cacao seeds, tea leaves and cola nut seeds.
Caffeine functions as a stimulant by setting off the human body’s central nervous system. It brings energy and enhances our concentration. It is also used in certain prescription and non-prescription medications for pain, allergies and colds.
Caffeine can lead to a short but immense spike in the blood pressure. To this day, it is uncertain what triggers this increase. Researchers assume that the stimulant obstructs a particular hormone which helps in widening arteries while some believe that it engages the adrenal glands to discharge more adrenaline which leads to a blood pressure spike.
People who regularly take in coffee have higher blood pressure compared to people who don’t drink the stuff. Even those who have normal high blood pressure experience this sudden spike due to the caffeine present in coffee. There are others though who are so used to drinking caffeinated drinks on the regular that their bodies develop tolerance to the stimulant, and this leads to caffeine not having any long-standing effects on their blood pressure.
To check whether the caffeine in your coffee may be responsible for your high blood pressure, check your BP prior to drinking one, then check your blood pressure once more 30 minutes to an hour after drinking it. If you notice an increase in your BP around 5-10 points, it might be time for you to take on the benefits of decaf coffee.
Decaf coffee beans are created by means of three techniques. In order to take away most of the caffeine from the beans, manufacturers make use of water, organic solvents or CO2 (carbon dioxide). All of these techniques either immerse or steam unroasted green coffee beans till its pores are undone or the caffeine thaws out so it can finally get extracted.
The Roselius Process
The Roselius Process is the first commercially effective decaffeination method. It was created in 1903 by Ludwig Roselius, a German coffee trader and patented in the year 1906. The procedure engages the steaming of green coffee beans in salt water then steeping the beans in a benzene bath. Due to the damaging effects of benzene on the body, the method was eventually scrapped.
The following are three modern ways to decaffeinate coffee:
This method makes use of a mix of chemicals like ethyl acetate, methylene chloride and water to produce a specific solvent which can take out caffeine. The solvent evaporates and does not leave any trace during the process.
- Swiss water
This process is done the organic way—it makes use of osmosis to take away caffeine.
- Carbon dioxide
This is the latest or newest method of extracting caffeine. Carbon dioxide serves as a gas compound derived naturally in coffee and is used by this process to take away caffeine. The process also retains the flavor compounds of the beans. While this is one of the most effective methods, it’s also the most expensive to perform.
Decaffeinating does change the taste and the aroma of the beverage, providing coffee that is a tad different in color and has milder flavors compared to regular coffee.
Is decaf coffee safe then? All of the modern methods involved in removing much of the caffeine are considered safe these days. As described earlier, none of the chemicals used during such processes are left on the beans themselves hence they are safe to drink.
Advantages of Decaffeinated Coffee
Decaf coffee had been found out to stop mental degeneration that is usually related with specific health conditions and ageing, according to a study conducted by Dr. Giulio Maria Pasinetti. Dr. Pasinetti is a professor of neurology and psychiatry in New York City’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
The study involved the use of mice with Type 2 diabetes. The mice who consumed decaf coffee for 5 straight months were found more capable of using sugar in their brains compared to mice who did not imbibe the beverage.
The sugar we consume is broken down by our body’s cells so the body can use it as an energy source. A weak sugar metabolism, often found in individuals with Type 2 diabetes, can result in mental decline. An impaired sugar metabolism is also observed in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients.
Dr. Pasinetti’s study is the first to display the possible advantages of coffee with less caffeine for stopping and treating mental degeneration brought about by Type 2 diabetes and other sorts of neurodegenerative conditions. Decaf comes with compounds referred to polyphenols which can increase mental performance and prevent cognitive impairment.
Other Advantages of Decaffeinated Coffee
Is decaf coffee good for you? Here are more advantages of the stuff.
Coffee, even without the caffeine, comes with active components that influences its color, taste and scent. Several of these components where found out to contain health benefits. Here are some of the following substances.
- Chlorogenic acid
A known antioxidant believed to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. It helps in decreasing the liver’s glucose generation. It also reduces hyperglycemic peaks in the blood after sugar consumption. The coffee plant is believed to utilize this substance to combat fungi, viruses and bacteria thus it might give humans similar advantages.
- Caffeic acid
While its name may imply that it is related to caffeine, the substance does not share any of its functions to the stimulant. It belongs to a bigger chemical class inherent in coffee referred to as phenols. Phenols like caffeic acid often display helpful antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties in moderate amounts.
- Ferulic acid
Another antioxidant which is capable of counteracting free radicals. It is believed to stop oxidative harm on the body. It can also reduce blood glucose amounts and minimize triglycerides and cholesterol levels. Ferulic acid is also an effective anti-inflammatory agent.
This substance can stop the Streptococcus mutans bacteria from sticking to our teeth, thus preventing dental diseases. However, this does not mean you need to use coffee as a mouthwash—in order for the substance to work, you have to drink at least a few cups of joe everyday to get the recommended dose of vitamin B3. Unstable at more than 160 degrees, this substance shifts at once into niacin or vitamin B3. Vitamin B3 is created out of trigonelline over the course of the bean-roasting procedure. Other than that, its presence might also reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.
During the bean-roasting process, beneficial fats called quinides are made. These fats might enhance the capability of the body to regulate blood sugar levels by improving insulin’s efficacy in eliminating sugars in the blood.
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Who Must Take in This Decaffeinated Wonder?
As mentioned previously, there are people who develop a tolerance for caffeine. However, there are people who must limit their intake of the stuff.
People who suffer from high blood pressure, anxiety, migraine, insomnia, nausea, and the jitters should take decaf use into consideration instead of the usual cup of joe. This is especially appropriate for people who cannot quit coffee just yet, or do not want to deal with caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
Caffeine is also responsible for causing GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), heartburn and hyperacidity. If you experience those conditions, you might need to limit your coffee intake and consider a dark roast decaf coffee, which is less acidic hence safer for your gut.
There are also certain medications which call for restricting caffeine intake because such medicines interact with the stimulant. For your safety, it’s better that you stop consuming caffeinated beverages and decaf coffee for the meantime in order for the medicine to work and prevent other side effects.