Anti-Inflammatory Benefits of Decaf Over Caffeinated Coffee

Numerous studies show that coffee has anti-inflammatory benefits, largely due to the fact that it acts as a powerful antioxidant. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean your morning cold brew or oatmeal cappuccino is enough as beneficial as eating a bowl of blueberries or lentils when it comes to fighting inflammation in the body. Why? You guessed it… caffeine.

Although many of us swear by the stimulant, caffeine can trigger a stress response and give you a racing heart, jitters, anxiety and prevent you from getting quality sleep. . Coffee can also be dehydrating – caffeine is a diuretic, after all. All of the above can mediate your body’s optimal inflammatory response.

That’s not to say caffeine is bad for you, because in small amounts it’s not. However, too much caffeine can cause anxiety (especially in those sensitive to it) and cause your heart to beat faster, and this prolonged stress on the cardiovascular system can lead to chronic inflammation, especially in the form of heart disease. . “Caffeine can boost catecholamines, and if you’re someone who suffers from anxiety and palpitations or irregular heartbeats, boosting catecholamines can exacerbate your symptoms,” said Eudene Harry, MD, medical director of the center. wellness and rejuvenation Oasis Well + Good. (That being said, most people without these symptoms can tolerate moderate caffeine intake.)

“Like anything else, it’s all about moderation,” says board-certified internist John Whyte, MD, MPH, author of Take control series. Speak words for living. “However, keep in mind that in addition to all of the aforementioned side effects, caffeinated coffee may also cause you to feel an increased need to urinate and increase the frequency of your headaches.”

The good news? There is a simple solution: decaffeinated.

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits of Decaffeinated Coffee

We know, we know. While it’s certainly not quite as sexy – and coffee snobs love to hate decaf because the beans are never naturally decaffeinated, which means companies have to extract the caffeine – there are plenty of roasters out there that make decaffeinated coffees. surprisingly delicious and high quality. And that’s a simple statement of fact: decaffeinated coffee offers all of the same anti-inflammatory benefits as regular coffee without any of the unwanted side effects that can be triggered by caffeine.

“Regular coffee contains anti-inflammatory compounds, so I view decaffeinated as a way for people to get the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of coffee without the caffeine,” says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LDN, CLEC , CPT. These benefits are not only plentiful, Manaker says, but they work to support your brain, heart, and can even help ward off chronic disease.

“For one thing, the antioxidants in decaffeinated or regular coffee help reduce your risk of blood clots forming in the blood vessels of your heart and brain,” Dr. Whyte agrees. “These same antioxidants may also make you more alert and even reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.”

Learn more about the health benefits of coffee (including decaffeinated) according to a dietitian by watching this video:

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How to get the most out of your cup of decaf

While all decaf coffee is considered anti-inflammatory, keep in mind that how you serve your decaf can also increase (or decrease) its anti-inflammatory potential. “It’s important to remember that when brewing your decaffeinated coffee, try to limit pro-inflammatory additions like sugar – yes, even organic sugar or demerara sugar – to maximize the health benefits of your cup. of coffee,” says Manaker. Moderation is, again, key: we’re not talking about your once-a-year Pumpkin Spice Latte habit; we’re talking about starting each morning with a beverage that far exceeds the American Heart Association’s recommended daily limit of six teaspoons.

Some health experts also claim that using artificial sweeteners is also not a great choice for fighting inflammation. A study published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health found that mice fed sucralose (the main ingredient in Splenda) daily throughout their lives eventually developed leukemia and other blood cancers. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has considered artificial sweeteners to be safe, they should always be kept in mind when trying to optimize the anti-inflammatory benefits of coffee.

To dial in the delicious flavor of coffee without sugar or sweeteners, Keri Gans, MS, RD suggests accessing your spice cabinet. “Cinnamon is a great sweetener for coffee and is actually known for its health benefits due to its antioxidant properties, such as it may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers and may help balance our immune system,” she previously told Well+. Good. (Read: Sprinkling cinnamon will further boost the anti-inflammatory benefits of your cup of coffee.) Unsweetened versions of soy, almond, and oat milk all have a naturally sweet taste that will also reduce the bitterness of coffee . Do you feel more daring? Try the hot sauce, it tastes surprisingly delicious and will add even more anti-inflammatory potential.

Remember, though, that while deca contains far less caffeine than regular coffee, it’s not completely caffeine-free. It may even make decaf a trigger for people who are particularly sensitive to caffeine. “Everyone has a different tolerance when it comes to caffeine, and although most of the caffeine has been removed in the making of decaffeinated coffee, legally decaffeinated coffee can still contain around seven milligrams of caffeine per cup. But for context, most regular coffees contain more than ten times that amount, think closer to 100 milligrams,” says Dr. Whyte.

At the end of the line

Ultimately, there’s no way to tell how much caffeine “diminishes” the anti-inflammatory benefits offered by coffee. Manaker also points out that since so much data shows that drinking regular coffee has anti-inflammatory effects, caffeine isn’t considered a serious trigger of chronic inflammation, even in those who drink coffee every day. In fact, although caffeine alone may be pro-inflammatory, according to the data, caffeinated coffee does not necessarily appear to trigger inflammation in the body. That being said, caffeine can still increase catecholamines, neurotransmitters involved in the body’s fight-or-flight stress response, and if prolonged, can lead to inflammation.

“The main reason I would suggest decaffeinated is so people can experience the benefits of coffee without the stimulation, stress symptoms, and dehydration, which for some people, like me, is a good thing,” Manaker says. Additionally, Dr. Whyte also notes that you can drink decaffeinated at night and generally don’t have the same sleep issues you might experience with regular coffee, which is extremely important for your overall health. (And it’s great if you like the taste and smell of coffee.)

Although no studies have been done to quantify the benefits of opting for decaffeinated over regular coffee when it comes to anti-inflammatory responses, if you find yourself experiencing some of the negative side effects of caffeine, switching to decaffeinated will help decrease those who don’t. effect on antioxidant benefits.

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