Health Benefits of Decaf Coffee

Decaf coffee may protect against liver disease, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes without the side effects of caffeine.

Research has found that coffee has several possible health benefits, but is decaf coffee also good for you? As it turns out, decaf coffee has many of the same antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals as a regular brew. Decaf coffee may protect against type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and heart disease.

Those possible health benefits come without the side effects of caffeine, like quickened heart rate, anxiety, nausea, and shaking. Decaf coffee may be suitable if you are prone to those side effects. You do not have to give up coffee's taste and social enjoyment. 

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Benefits of Decaf Coffee

Some evidence suggests several possible benefits of drinking regular coffee, such as reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and promoting liver and heart health. Studies on the benefits of decaf coffee are limited. Still, research has found that decaf coffee may benefit similarly to regular coffee.

Helps Protect Against Type 2 Diabetes

Some evidence suggests that drinking coffee helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. In one study published in 2017, researchers noted that decaf coffee offers similar protection against type 2 diabetes.

Insulin helps unlock cells so that glucose (sugar) can enter. Some people with type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance, in which their bodies do not respond to insulin as they should. As a result, glucose accumulates in the blood, causing high blood sugar. Untreated, high blood sugar can cause complications like vision problems and kidney disease.

The researchers found that polyphenols, antioxidants in decaf coffee, can trigger the beta cells in the pancreas to secrete insulin and control blood sugar.

Might Prevent Liver Disease

Drinking decaf coffee may help protect against liver disease, including inflammation and fibrosis, which is liver scarring.

For example, one study published in 2014 retrieved data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, collected from 1999 to 2010. The researchers studied the serum levels of four liver enzymes of 27,793 adults who drank coffee. The researchers found that both regular and decaf coffee reduced abnormal levels of those liver enzymes.

The possible protective benefits of decaf coffee against liver disease are key. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a common liver disease with few treatments.

May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease

Some evidence suggests that regular and decaf coffee help reduce heart disease risk. In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death among adults. Heart disease includes illnesses like coronary artery disease (CAD), heart failure, and stroke.

In one study published in 2022, researchers studied the risk of heart disease among people with drank decaf, ground, and instant coffee compared to others. The researchers found that people drinking two to three cups of coffee, including decaf, had a lower risk of heart disease and premature death than non-coffee-drinkers.

Does Not Have Negative Side Effects of Caffeine

Decaf coffee can be a suitable option for people who may need to avoid caffeine. For example, people with severe anxiety, heart disease, arrhythmias, seizures, or who are pregnant may be unable to drink caffeine.

Common side effects of caffeine include:

  • Quickened heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling restless
  • Shaking
  • Frequent urination

By drinking decaf coffee, you can avoid those side effects, especially if you are prone to stress or insomnia. Consult a healthcare provider if you have a health condition that may impact your caffeine intake.

Nutrition of Decaf Coffee

The nutrition of decaf coffee varies by brand and depends on whether you add milk, creamer, or sugar. Generally, a two-gram serving of decaf coffee has the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 5
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 5mg
  • Carbohydrates: 1g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Added sugars: 1g
  • Protein: 0g

Risks of Decaf Coffee

Decaf coffee is not entirely caffeine-free, but most brands remove at least 97% of caffeine. Eight-ounce decaf coffee may contain two milligrams of caffeine, compared to about 95 milligrams in a regular brew.

Caffeine allergies are rare but can lead to anaphylaxis. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to caffeine may include:

  • Itchy throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives 
  • Swelling

Consult a healthcare provider right away if you develop an adverse reaction after consuming decaf coffee. 

Tips for Consuming Decaf Coffee

Decaf coffee is a suitable option if you want to give up caffeine but enjoy the taste and social enjoyment of caffeine.

When buying decaf coffee, keep in mind that options are available in different roasts, like regular coffee. Decaf coffee roasts include:

  • Light: Light roast decaf coffee has a light brown color and a mild taste. Generally, light roasts have more caffeine than other roasts. You may want to avoid light roasts to avoid caffeine as much as possible.
  • Medium: Medium roast decaf coffee has a medium brown color and a mild taste. You may prefer medium roasts if you enjoy the taste of caffeine. 
  • Medium-dark: Medium-dark roast decaf coffee is slightly darker than medium roasts. Medium-dark roasts often have a somewhat bitter aftertaste. 
  • Dark: Dark roast decaf coffee has the most bitter taste of the different roasts. Dark roasts are less acidic than other roasts. 

You can gradually wean or go cold turkey if you consider ditching caffeine. The former is the best option to avoid caffeine withdrawal symptoms, which may include fatigue, headaches, and irritability. In contrast, the latter approach may leave you feeling downright miserable. Side effects should subside within about one week.

A Quick Review

Decaf coffee may protect against type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and heart disease. Decaf coffee may be suitable for people who want to avoid or cannot drink a lot of caffeine. Still keep in mind that decaf caffeine can have trace amounts of caffeine. 

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