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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Decaffeinated Coffee

People often ask me whether decaffeinated coffee is better than the caffeinated variety. My answer is usually 'marginally'.

Here is a good overview from the people at Nutri.
Many of us drink decaffeinated coffee in the belief that it is healthier than the caffeinated version. But is it really any good for us or are we being misled?

Coffee contains three stimulants: caffeine, theobromine and theophylline. Although the worst offender, caffeine, has been removed from the decaf, the other two stimulants remain present. Hence, decaf coffee may still impact the autonomic nervous system, causing a host of physiological symptoms, although maybe not quite as noticeable. In addition, regular and decaf coffee also contain a substance called chlorogenic acid, which can raise both cholesterol and homocysteine, both of which are known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The method of decaffeination is another source of concern for decaf coffee drinkers; some of the ways in which the caffeine has been removed from the coffee could actually be making it much more harmful to drink than regular coffee. Coffee is most commonly decaffeinated using one of two methods: either a water process or one which uses harmful chemical solvents. It is obviously preferable to choose manufacturers that are using the water process to decaffeinate their coffee, and any reputable company should be able to tell you which one they use.

On balance, decaf coffee could never really be described as a ‘healthy option’ but, for hardened coffee drinkers, it can certainly help to reduce caffeine in the diet. Unfortunately though, decaf coffee is never going to be able to compete with the real healthy alternatives such as dandelion coffee, redbush tea or fruit and herbal infusions – the ones that are really going to do you some good!

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