Considering Switching to Decaf? Here’s What You Need To Know

Coffee is inarguably the world’s most beloved beverage, with as many as seven in 10 Americans drinking at least one cup a day. If you can relate to the average American, you drink as many as three cups per day, whether because you need a boost or out of sheer habit. While recent studies suggest that the more coffee you drink, the better, the truth is that many people can and do experience adverse side effects from too much caffeine intake. If you’re one such person, you may wonder, should you switch to decaf?

The Deal With Decaf

Unlike sugar, dairy and meat alternatives, decaf coffee really is just coffee sans the caffeine. To make decaf coffee, the manufacturers simply remove the caffeine from the beans by washing them in a solvent. Common solvents include organic solvents, water and carbon dioxide. Once the beans are virtually caffeine-free, the beans are then rinsed to wash away the solvent.

Once decaffeinated, you can roast and ground the beans as normal. Though the smell and taste may be milder than traditional coffee, the nutritional value should be similar to, if not the same as, regular coffee.

Decaf’s Nutritional Value

Speaking of nutritional value … Not only is coffee one of the world's most beloved beverages but also one of the healthiest. Coffee is loaded with antioxidants and is, in fact, the single largest source of antioxidants in the Western diet. Among other benefits, antioxidants reduce oxidative damage throughout the body and help to prevent chronic illness, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and many cancers.

Decaf offers more or less the same health benefits as regular coffee. It, too, is loaded with antioxidants, though studies suggest that decaf typically contains about 15% less than caffeinated joe. This is likely due to the decaffeination process in which several properties are lost. Despite the small loss, though, decaf is still a huge source of antioxidants and, therefore, a better alternative to just about any other beverage.

In addition to being antioxidant-rich, decaf also contains trace amounts of other necessary nutrients. For instance, a single cup of brew provides 4.8% of your recommended daily potassium intake, 2.4% of magnesium, 2.5% of niacin and small amounts of vitamin B3. Though these amounts may seem minimal, they quickly add up if you are a multiple-cup-a-day type person.

Possible Effects of Going Decaf

Decaf may be similar in composition to regular coffee, and it may offer more or less the same health benefits, but it does differ in the effects it has on the body. Below are a few changes you may experience after switching to the dark side:

  • You may feel more lethargic at first as your body gets used to life without caffeine once again.
  • You may experience the symptoms of withdrawal, especially if you were a heavy coffee drinker. Don’t worry though, these symptoms — which may include headache, nausea and fatigue — won’t last long.
  • You may notice a surge in appetite, as caffeine is an appetite suppressant.

However, switching to decaf is not all bad. After about a week or so of drinking strictly decaf, you may notice that you actually have more energy. Not only that, but your sleep quality may improve, your tummy issues may disappear and you may notice that you no longer feel anxiety for no discernible reason.

Decaf coffee is not for everyone. However, if you experience side effects after drinking regular coffee, or if you simply want to cut back on your caffeine intake, decaf could be a great alternative for you. You will still reap all the health benefits of the real deal but without any of the pesky side effects that come with caffeine overload.

5 of the Biggest Coffee Myths Debunked!

For a long time, coffee was a guilty pleasure. Now, you can raise your head proudly and tell the whole world that you love coffee! Don't let these five coffee myths stop you from enjoying a cup of dark and delicious java.

Myth: Coffee Dehydrates You

Drinking more water is always a good thing, but your morning cup of joe isn’t responsible for dehydration. Coffee is a mild diuretic, which can make you go to the bathroom more, but the effect is so slight that it doesn’t make a noticeable difference. In case you were wondering, the water in coffee does count toward your goal of 2 liters of water per day.

Myth: Coffee Isn’t Healthy for You

Coffee is rich in antioxidants, nutrients that help protect your body. Many people get more antioxidants from their daily dose of coffee than from fruits and veggies!

All of these antioxidants can add up to major health benefits. People who drink coffee regularly have a far lower risk of many diseases:

  • Heart disease
  • Liver problems
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

Plus, caffeine from coffee can increase your metabolism and help you burn more fat from exercise. Coffee can improve your energy level, alertness, memory and mood!

That said, you can have too much of a good thing. Excess caffeine can raise your blood pressure. How much is OK? Stick with two to five cups a day and you’ll be fine.

Myth: Dark Roast Has More Caffeine Than Light Roast

Dark roast coffee has a stronger flavor, so it must be higher in caffeine, right? Wrong. Actually, light roasts usually have a bit more caffeine ounce for ounce because the beans are smaller.

Myth: Coffee Is Addictive

Some people have given up drinking coffee because family members say the person is “addicted.” Honestly, this one gets me upset. Comparing coffee to other addictive substances is a real stretch of the imagination. There’s no reason to feel guilty for liking coffee (or dark chocolate or other perfectly natural foods with caffeine).

Why the whole “addicted” shtick? Caffeine is a stimulant, so it can technically produce a tiny amount of physical dependence. If you stop drinking coffee abruptly, you may get a headache or have trouble concentrating for a few days. That’s it.

On the other hand, addiction to alcohol or opioids requires professional rehabilitation and has life-threatening health risks. There’s just no point of comparison between those things and a harmless cup of coffee.

Myth: The Freezer Is the Best Place To Store Coffee

You bought a few bags of your favorite coffee beans from a store you only visit every few months. You want to keep that oh-so-irresistible aroma smelling fresh. Where should you store the beans? Not in your freezer!

For the freshest coffee, keep those magical beans in a cool, dry place. Your freezer may be cool, but it’s not dry. Freezers have a lot of moisture. They can strip your coffee of its delightful freshness and ruin its flavor with weird smells.

The best place to keep coffee beans is in an airtight container in your cupboard. Give each bag its own container and enjoy rich, intense flavors for months!