Is Decaffeinated Coffee Bad for You?

Coffee is by far one of the most popular beverages in the entire world, and for good reason.  It is delicious, and it provides a great pick me up on sluggish mornings.  There have been many studies done on the benefits and risks associated with drinking coffee, and there have been almost as many conflicting reports.  One commonly cited “fact” is that decaffeinated coffee is bad for you.  Some even claim that it is unhealthier than its caffeinated counterpart.  Is there any truth to this, or is it another of the many unsubstantiated claims floating around in cyberspace?

How Is Your Decaf Made?

One of the biggest factors concerning the safety of decaffeinated coffee is the way that the caffeine is removed.  Coffee that is labeled as “naturally decaffeinated” or as “Swiss Water Processed” is certainly better for you in this regard than other forms of decaf.  Many companies, in an effort to save time and money, treat coffee beans with a chemical solvent that removes caffeine.  This solvent can certainly lead to health concerns when ingested in large amounts, but choosing naturally decaffeinated or Swiss Water Processed coffee ensures that there are no chemical solvents present.

What About Other Risks?

The other risks considered when speaking about the safety of decaffeinated coffee are usually the same risks that are present when drinking regular coffee.  For example, most decaffeinated coffee is made with Robusta beans because the stronger flavor remains intact after the decaffeination process.  Unfortunately, these beans also have a higher fat content than other coffee beans, which can trigger higher cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease.  This is true of any coffee made with these beans, including caffeinated coffee.  The key to avoiding this side effect is to drink coffee only in moderation.

Other risks commonly associated with coffee include osteoporosis, ulcers, and reflux.  The risk of osteoporosis is due largely in part to the high acidity of coffee, which can contribute to the demineralization of bones.  Again, moderation can help to reduce the risk of these effects, and ensuring a healthy diet can help as well.  The risks of acid reflux and gastric ulcers are shown to be higher with decaffeinated coffee than regular, largely due again to the highly acidic beans that are used.  Because of this, moderation is crucial, especially for people with a history of reflux or ulcers.

At the end of the day, the question of whether or not decaffeinated coffee is bad for you depends on a number of factors.  Not only do the methods and processes used to make the coffee help answer these questions, but your health and diet as well.  Coffee should always be imbibed in moderation, regardless of caffeine content, and pregnant women or those with health concerns should take particular care not to drink too much.  Virtually anything can be bad for you in large amounts, but with a bit of moderation and by paying attention to how your coffee is made, you can certainly minimize any risks associated with your favorite brand of java.

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