Across the internet, you’ll find plenty of memes and jokes about how much people despise decaf coffee – but hating these decaffeinated products neglects the many benefits they have, many of which you’ve probably never heard of. These benefits are hidden from the public in our stimulant-crazed society, but ask a decaf coffee drinker how they feel without caffeine, and they’d probably tell you they’d never go back.

From improving the visible signs of aging (that’s right – decaf coffee makes you look younger) to reducing stress and anxiety, decaf coffee has many surprising benefits that would surprise you. In this article, we break down the benefits of decaf coffee to improve your health and enjoy a warm, full-bodied cup o’ joe at the same time.

1. Decaf Coffee Contains Anti-Aging Compounds

There are many positive effects that coffee has on the body once the caffeine is removed.

These benefits primarily come from a compound within the coffee bean called a polyphenol, which is a type of antioxidant found in many plants.

Polyphenols have sparked scientists’ interest in finding out what makes some people appear more youthful than others, and how this affects the body.

As it turns out, one study found that decaf coffee given to rats who have fasted inhibits various metabolic diseases through a process called autophagy. [1]

Autophagy is a process where the body begins to “prune” damaged cells within the body and helps prevent the onset of cellular diseases like cancer, dementia, and other conditions typically brought on by stress in the body’s cells.

2. Decaf Coffee Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Stress isn’t always bad. It can help keep us alive, react quickly, and perform tasks under pressure; however, stress is there to keep us alert infrequently.

Your body isn’t meant to produce stress hormones consistently, which is an increasingly common problem.

Even if you don’t feel overly stressed, caffeine adds stress by stimulating the fight or flight response, which raises the levels of a stress hormone called cortisol in your body. [2]

Animal studies suggest that caffeine negatively impacts hormones produced by the adrenal system, including suppressed sperm viability in males. [3]

Without the added anxiety-inducing, stimulating effects of caffeine, we’re left with the soothing benefits of a warm cup of coffee that’s full of antioxidants and healthy fats (especially in a tasty bulletproof brew.)

3. Decaf Coffee May Boost Brain Function

Aging is natural, and with it comes some amount of mental decline – or so we think.

Scientists have discovered that decaffeinated coffee can help boost your cognitive function and protect neurons in your brain.

The neuroprotective effects of decaf coffee help your brain stay healthy, relieving oxidative stress, which reduces your risk or Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. [4]

Decaf vs Regular Coffee

If you’re wondering whether you should go cold turkey with your caffeine, think again; caffeine can be beneficial in moderation.

We suggest a healthy balance of caffeine and decaf coffee to get the best of both worlds.

The polyphenols that provide so many benefits are present in any coffee, caffeinated or not.

Caffeine inhibits the absorption of many nutrients, [3] meaning you won’t get the full benefit of coffee’s nutritional antioxidants unless you go decaf.

On the other hand, caffeine can provide some benefit to the body, such as protecting against heart failure, [4] liver disease, and even type 2 diabetes.

As with many things in life, however, caffeine is best in moderation as it has ill side effects if you consume too much too frequently.

Does Decaf Coffee Have Caffeine?

Yes, decaf coffee does still contain a small amount of caffeine after it has been removed.

According to USDA regulations, manufacturers must ensure that their decaf coffee does not exceed 0.10% caffeine by dry weight.

The most common decaffeination process is only able to remove about 97% of the caffeine from the grounds, leaving 5 mg of caffeine per 12-ounce cup, compared to 180 mg of natural coffee.

The amount of caffeine that is left inside the grounds also depends on the method of extraction, so for caffeine-sensitive individuals who are looking to get the most health benefits from their cup, we recommend a brand that uses a water-based extraction method.

The most common and economical choice is to use a combination of methylene chloride, ethyl acetate, and water which binds to the caffeine molecules. This solvent-based method results in a product that is, on average, 97% decaffeinated. This method also removes a lot of the compounds that flavor the drink, and therefore some polyphenols.

The water-based method is the most successful and natural way to remove caffeine, relying on osmosis alone to extract the caffeine and resulting in grounds that are 99% decaffeinated. This process leaves the flavor compounds and polyphenols intact, resulting in a healthier, more flavorful brew.

So, how about you? Decaf? Fully caffeinated? Tell us what you prefer below!