Are decaffeinated coffee beans a healthier choice?

According to the National Coffee Association ten percent of coffee drinkers drink decaffeinated coffee, with sales from roasters and coffee houses being slightly higher.

Many people who drink decaf coffee do so because it will not keep them awake at night, nor cause them to have chest palpitations or jitters as normal coffee drinkers sometimes experience. Some think Decaffeinated Coffee Beans are better for them than regular beans, but does the process to decaffeinate represent a health risk?

The process of decaffeination
Decaffeination will reduce the amount of caffeine in coffee beans, yet without markedly affecting its flavour.

All decaf coffee contains a small amount of caffeine; the standards state that decaffeinated coffee must have at least 97% of caffeine removed.  There are various methods of removing caffeine such as running green coffee beans through a bath of water or steam, which causes the coffee beans to swell.  Caffeine is then extracted using a chemical solvent or water; the beans are then washed clean and allowed to dry to remove moisture before roasting takes place.

Alternative processes of removing the caffeine from beans include the use of carbon dioxide, or the Swiss Water Method which extracts the caffeine through a carbon filter.

“Naturally” decaffeinated coffee is usually manufactured without using harsh chemicals but, if you are in any doubt, contact us at The Coffee Wholesalers for knowledgeable advice.

The benefits of decaffeination
You may find that you are sensitive to the effects of caffeine, yet may tolerate a decaf version better.  While effects vary from person to person, caffeine is known to stimulate the nervous system to make you feel more alert, awake and with a wider ability to concentrate.

This process of decaffeination still leaves some cafestrol in the beans, a substance which will enhance the production of bile acid and produce effective anti-inflammatory properties that benefit the brain.

Decaf coffee provides high levels of anti-oxidants which purport to prevent the ageing process and cancer.  Studies have shown that regular decaf drinkers have a reduced risk of having colon cancer and for female drinkers of decaf, the risk of breast cancer is reduced.

During the decaffeination process the polyphenols found in the coffee beans are retained. They are responsible for boosting the cognitive abilities of the brain and for improving memory.

The downsides of decaf coffee
As to the benefits of drinking decaffeinated coffee, there are of course arguments why you should not drink it.  Studies have shown that the levels of specific cholesterol in the blood may be increased, as often caffeine free coffee is made from coffee beans that have a higher fat content. In consequence this may have a detrimental effect on your heart.

The decaffeination process may have utilised chemicals or solvents to remove the caffeine from the beans.

As not all caffeine is removed during the process, a drinker who has 5-10 cups of decaf coffee a day is drinking the equivalent dose of 1-2 cups of regular coffee.

The choices should be based on your own findings and understanding of the drawbacks and benefits of both types of coffee, and your own health history. Studies have been conducted that can prove the health benefits of using Decaffeinated Coffee Beans and while it may not perk you up like a regular coffee will, it may go a long way to ensure long life and good health.