Here's Exactly What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Decaf Coffee Every Day, According to Dietitians

Decaf coffee and dandelions on a tray for the morning

Caffeine affects people differently and not everyone can tolerate it well. Maybe you love the taste of coffee, but hate how jittery it makes you feel. Or, you want to switch to decaf to avoid how drastically it impacts your energy levels.

Coffee has many proven health benefits, so if you are considering switching to drinking decaf every day instead, you may be wondering how it will impact your health. Will you be missing out on all the beneficial ways it impacts the body? Here, registered dietitians compare the health benefits of regular coffee and decaf coffee and reveal how drinking decaf every day can impact health.

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Does Decaf Coffee Have the Same Health Benefits as Regular Coffee?

Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, and because of that, its impact on health has been extensively studied. Scientific studies show that drinking moderate amounts of coffee regularly can lower the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancers. It’s even connected to living longer.

When comparing decaf coffee to regular coffee, it’s important to understand how decaf coffee is made. Decaf coffee is made from coffee beans that have had at least 97% of the caffeine removed. There are different ways this is done, but essentially the beans are washed, steamed and roasted at a temperature that evaporates the liquid used to decaffeinate the coffee.

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There are some claims that using water to remove the caffeine is safer than using the chemical methylene chloride, but the Food and Drug Administration has declared it safe in the small amount used in the decaffeinating process. If you are concerned about toxins in your decaf coffee, the non-profit Clean Label Project tested numerous top decaffeinated coffee brands for methylene chloride and shared on their site which brands it was detected in and which brands it was not detected in.

Registered dietitian Alexis Newman, RD, says that decaf coffee has many health benefits, just as regular coffee does. “Decaf coffee contains polyphenols, which are antioxidants. These antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and stress in the body,” she explains.

Registered dietitian Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDCES, FAND, echoes that decaf coffee is healthy and, for some, makes an even healthier choice than drinking caffeinated coffee. “Decaf coffee can be a healthy choice, especially for those who enjoy the taste of coffee without caffeine,” she says. Like Newman, she shares that decaf coffee is high in antioxidants, which has many health benefits, including helping to prevent or reduce chronic inflammation.

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How Drinking Decaf Coffee Every Day Impacts the Body

It’s clear that drinking decaf coffee has health benefits, but what happens if you drink it every day? Below are five ways it can impact the body.

1. You might sleep better

If you switch from drinking caffeinated coffee to drinking decaffeinated coffee every day, one change Sheth says you may experience is getting better sleep—especially if you are used to having a cup of coffee in the afternoon to help you power through the day. Scientific research shows that drinking caffeinated coffee can reduce total sleep time by 45 minutes and sleep efficiency by 7%. So, switching to decaf may make you feel even more energized than when relying on caffeinated coffee for energy!

2. You may feel less anxious

If caffeine makes you feel jittery, Sheth says that switching to decaf can lead to feeling more calm and less anxious. Backing this up, some scientific research does show a connection between coffee consumption and increased feelings of anxiety. If you are someone who struggles with anxiety, drinking decaf coffee instead of caffeinated coffee is worth trying.

On the other hand, if you are used to drinking caffeinated coffee every day, Newman says that for the first couple of weeks, you may actually feel depressed and tired. “Reducing caffeine quickly can cause caffeine withdrawal. Symptoms of caffeine withdrawal can happen between 12 to 24 hours after the last cup of coffee, and it can last up to nine days. These systems are typically headaches, tremors, fatigue, depressed moods, anxiety and irritability,” she explains. Just remember: This is temporary and should go away after those first initial weeks.

3. It may lower your risk of cognitive decline

If drinking decaf coffee becomes a daily habit for you, Sheth says that it could lower your risk of cognitive decline. This is because, just like with caffeinated coffee, decaf coffee is high in antioxidants, which helps prevent chronic inflammation in the brain.

4. It could lower your risk of cardiovascular disease

Something else Sheth says that decaf coffee has in common with caffeinated coffee is that they both support heart health. Drinking decaf coffee every day could lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, scientific research found that decaf coffee has even more phenolic acid (an antioxidant) than caffeinated coffee, and phenolic acid is directly linked to protecting against cardiovascular disease.

5. Drinking decaf coffee every day could add years to your life

Sheth says that you won’t miss out on coffee’s longevity-giving benefits by drinking decaf coffee instead of caffeinated coffee. This is because the benefits stem not from the caffeine, but the antioxidants, B vitamins, magnesium and potassium that are in both drinks.

As you can see, drinking decaffeinated coffee can be just as beneficial to your health as drinking caffeinated coffee. If caffeine makes you feel jittery or anxious, switching to decaf could be a good way to go. Not into the taste of coffee at all? There’s always tea, which has just as many health benefits. Go for the drink you like the most. No matter which one you choose, your body will benefit.

Next up, find out if coffee is good for weight loss.