Many people across the globe begin their day with a hot cup of coffee, which helps wake them up and gives them the added boost that they need, to perform their daily activities. However, one of the main ingredients in coffee is caffeine, which is believed to be highly addictive and can have several adverse effects on the human body. In the last decade or so, many of the harmful side effects of this substance have come to light and therefore, many people have switched over to decaffeinated coffee. This way people believe that they can still enjoy the taste of coffee, without subjecting their bodies to the health risks, usually associated with caffeine. However, not all health experts are convinced that decaffeinated coffee is a healthy choice of beverage, despite the fact that the content of caffeine in it is much less.
Moreover, it is important to realize that even though the name says “decaffeinated coffee”, there is still some amount of caffeine that is present in it.
How Is Decaffeinated Coffee Made?
Since caffeine is one of the main compounds present in regular coffee, it is quite natural for people to wonder “how is decaffeinated coffee made”. There are several processes that can help decaffeinate coffee. The healthiest way to do so, is water decaffeination, which is used most commonly, by most leading coffee manufacturing companies. Generally, for the production of decaffeinated coffee, the beans are steamed for about half an hour and then rinsed with methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. After draining the chemicals, the beans are steamed once again. If the ethyl acetate used in the process is derived from fruits or vegetables, then the coffee is said to be “naturally decaffeinated”. However, in the water decaffeination mention, the beans are soaked in water, instead of being steamed. After the water is drained (and kept aside), the methylene chloride or ethyl acetate is added. The beans are then steamed at intense heat, so that the chemicals evaporate. The water that was used to soak the beans earlier is then reused to rinse the beans again. Although decaffeinated coffee health benefits are much higher through the water decaffeination process, several coffee lovers and enthusiasts feel that the flavor and taste of coffee is compromised through this process. There are other methods too that can be used for obtaining decaffeinated coffee.
Decaffeinated Coffee Health Effects
Unfortunately, many coffee lovers tend to drink a higher amount of decaffeinated coffee, since they believe that it has no harmful effects on the health. However, this is not true, as the coffee beans that are used for decaffeinated coffee are generally much stronger than the ones used for regular coffee. Moreover, while decaffeination of coffee reduces the content of caffeine to a great extent, it does not eliminate the caffeine completely. Therefore, if a person consumes 4 or 5 mugs of decaffeinated coffee each day, it is equivalent to drinking the amount of caffeine that is present in 2 cups of regular coffee. Moreover, the other chemicals and compounds that are present in coffee do not get eliminated with the decaffeination process. These chemicals can still have an adverse effect on a person’s health. Therefore, decaffeinated coffee should be consumed in limited quantities too.
Decaffeinated Coffee And Pregnancy
Regular coffee should be strictly avoided in pregnancy, as caffeine can have an adverse effect on the growth and development of the baby. However, there are many pregnant women who have a hard time giving up their favorite beverage for a period of nine months and ask their doctors, if it is alright for them to consume decaf coffee. Although the information on the effects of decaffeinated coffee on a pregnancy is limited, there are some surveys, which state that drinking a moderate amount of decaf coffee will not harm the baby. However, since decaf coffee also contains a small amount of caffeine, it is like taking a risk. Hence it is important to consult a doctor to check if decaf coffee can be consumed during pregnancy.