Does Decaf Have No Caffeine?

Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant that is commonly found in coffee beans, tea, cocoa and other plants. The compound was first isolated in the 19th century. In the 20th century, a method to decaffeinate beverages was introduced that kept the flavor of the drink. While decaffeinating a beverage or food does reduce the caffeine content significantly, there are still trace amounts left. For instance, depending on the brand, 5-10 cups of decaffeinated coffee has the same content as a caffeinated cup. While drinking decaffeinated beverages cuts on down the amount of caffeine consumed, drinkers should be aware of the effects.


Studies have shown people consuming between 3-6 coups of decaffeinated coffee have increased cholesterol levels ranging from 8%-18%. It is a moderate increase, especially when compared to caffeine drinkers. Decaf drinkers should consider this information if they have borderline cholesterol levels. The chemical process done to extract the caffeine contributes to higher cholesterol. 


People who drink decaffeinated coffee often do not realize there is still caffeine in the drink. One of the big reasons people switch from caffeinated to decaffeinated coffee is the stimulant effect. Heavy coffee drinkers report insomnia and jittery movements as a reason for switching types. Studies have found that they are more likely to drink more decaffeinated coffee then before as they believe the stimulant has been completely removed. Decaffeinated coffee does retain some caffeine. If the person drinks enough of it, she will feel the same effects. 


Decaffeinated beverages have been cited as being a healthy choice for the consumer. To get a decaffeinated beverage, there are several different methods, some of which include using formaldehyde. These methods account for some of the less expensive decaffeinated beverages on the market. The Swiss method involves using water and carbon filters to get caffeine out of the product.  Other cheaper methods include the triglyceride method that accounts for cholesterol increases seen in decaf drinkers. Scientists are experimenting with techniques to grow naturally occurring decaffeinated beans on a mass schedule to avoid the chemical process.


There is some concern about decaffeinated drinks becoming habit forming. Regulation on decaffeination is somewhat loose, as a drink with 3% caffeine could be considered decaffeinated. The less caffeine in a drink, the more a person might consume to get the original effects. Caffeine is a stimulant and people do develop addictions to it. While a decaffeinated beverage can be an excellent alternative, there are still traces of the compound left in it. A consumer needs to be aware of this fact when planning a diet.

People who drink decaffeinated beverages are likely to have more, possibly increasing their intake. Like with any other substance, decaffeinated drinks should be used in moderation. 


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