Possible Health Benefits of Drinking Decaf Coffee
We’ve noticed a definite shift towards decaf coffee in the last year or two as consumers are increasingly looking for healthier versions of their favourite foods and drinks. Of course it’s nothing new, decaffeinated coffee has been around for decades, but now you’ll see it right at the top of the drinks list at pretty much any coffee shop you care to visit.
So are there real health benefits to drinking decaf? There are many studies published that say there are definite and measurable benefits, so we took at a look at one of the more prominent pieces of research. Studies conducted by Dr. Giulio Maria Pasinetti, professor of neurology and psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City concentrated on how decaf coffee could potentially be used to treat or even prevent mental decline.
Coffee beans contain a number of different substances that contribute to its taste and aroma, some of which his team tested to determine if there were any identifiable positive health benefits. Caffeic acid, a phenol based chemical, has in particular been found to contain elements that have both anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties. Coffee also contains a substance called chlorogenic acid, which has already been proven to help minimise glucose production in the liver, which in turn prevents hyperglycemic peak after ingesting food and drinks with high sugar content.
So if coffee contains all of these positive elements, why is decaf the preferred healthy option? It’s simply because the caffeine present in coffee still poses a small potential risk of triggering heart diseases. Once removed, the full health benefits of coffee become more viable. Dr Pasinetti’s study also revealed that decaffeinated coffee can enhance the metabolism of sugar and help convert it to energy. This is particularly interesting because type 2 diabetes can lead to mental decline due to reduced sugar metabolism in the brain. Therefore, there is a strong and well published link between decaf coffee and the prevention of mental decline caused by diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
To be clear, the health benefits go beyond the absence of caffeine in decaf. The actual decaffeination process itself leaves behind a substance called cafestrol, which has been shown to enhance the body’s production of bile acid, as well as having anti inflammatory properties that are particularly beneficial to the brain. The process of decaffeination, however, does not reduce the level of antioxidants present in coffee.
So there are very few reasons to avoid decaf unless you particularly need it to kick start your day or keep you awake on a long drive. If you’re drinking coffee purely for the taste, then it’s definitely worth considering. Gone are the days when decaf had a nasty aftertaste or was viewed as somehow inferior to standard coffee. Sure, it’s a little more expensive, but this is simply due to the cost of processing it.
In summary, Dr Pasinetti’s studies confirmed the findings from many other similar pieces of work, namely:
- Decaf coffee can reduce the risk of developing diabetes
The anti-oxidant properties of decaf coffee can protect the cells from damage that can lead to diabetes. The decaf process doesn’t remove the chlorogenic acid content which is responsible for regulating blood glucose levels.
- Cancer prevention
Decaffeinate coffee still contains high levels of the anti-oxidants that can prevent conditions associated with both the aging process and a number of cancers. A number of studies agree that regular drinkers of decaf display a reduced risk of developing colon cancer. For women, there is also a corresponding reduction in the risk of breast cancer.
- Decreased risk of heart problems.
As mentioned, caffeine has been linked to number of heart conditions including irregular palpitations, heart attacks and strokes. The removal of the caffeine (without reducing the levels of antioxidants) can help reduce the risk of developing a wide variety of heart conditions.
- Prevention of mental decline due to age and Alzheimer's.
The polyphenols found in coffee beans are still present after the decaffeination process, these being the substances responsible for increasing cognitive abilities with the brain, thus further improving memory.
As we’ve said, we’ve used one study as an example, and there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that the benefits are real. This information is intended to be read in association with other studies and is not the results of any work carried out by us.
Have a look at the decaffeinated coffees now available and ask yourself if there is any good reason not to switch. If you can contribute any more to this, please feel free to email us.