Whether you switch to decaf in the afternoon or opt for it all the time, you may be surprised to learn these things about decaf coffee:
Decaf doesn’t mean caffeine-free.
According to FDA regulations, coffee must have 97 percent of the original caffeine removed in order to be labeled as decaffeinated. Drink five to ten cups of decaf and you’ll likely be consuming the equivalent of a cup or two of regular coffee in terms of caffeine content — so keep that in mind if you’re cutting caffeine for health reasons.
The amount of caffeine in decaf coffee varies (a lot).
Since some coffee beans have more coffee than others, a decaf cup with 97 percent of the caffeine removed might still have more than you prefer to drink. So while a cup of regular coffee usually contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine, a 2007 Consumer Reports test of 36 popular brands found some decaf cups that still packed in over 20 milligrams — a decaf from Dunkin Donuts had 32 milligrams.
Not all decaf is made equal.
There are different ways to decaffeinate coffee. Look for a Swiss Water Process seal or a brand that uses the CO2 method to decaffeinate—both are the only certified-organic methods and don’t use chemical agents.
1 in 10 coffee drinkers reach for decaf.
10 percent of coffee drinkers opt for decaf, according to the National Coffee Association, but it’s even higher among roasters and coffee houses. About 18 percent of Counter Culture’s sales come from decaf coffee.
Decaf is good for your liver.
A study of over 28,000 participants found that over a 10-year period, people who drink at least three cups of coffee a day had lower levels of four liver enzymes often linked to damage and inflammation. The best part? Decaf drinkers enjoy the benefit, too.
Decaf reduces your diabetes risk.
Compared with those who don’t drink coffee at all, those who drank six cups of regular coffee a day have a 33 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes. But if you’re sipping on decaf, you’ll still get some of the benefit — one cup of decaf per day led to a six percent reduction in type 2 diabetes risk.
Decaf might raise your cholesterol.
According to the American Heart Association, decaffeinated coffee may raise your LDL cholesterol, possibly harming your heart health. Researchers tracked three group of participants — those who drank three cups of coffee a day, those who drank three cups of decaf, and those who didn’t drink either. Three months later, only the decaf group experienced an 8 percent spike in apolipoprotein B, a component of LDL cholesterol.
Decaf cuts prostate cancer risk.
In a study of 47,911 men by the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers found that men who consumed six or more cups of coffee a day had an 18 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer, and were 60 percent less likely to die of it. Those benefits extended to decaf drinkers, suggesting that it’s the antioxidants, not the caffeine, that offer protection.