I know you have the same problem…when you drink decaf coffee, you feel the urge and off to the bathroom, you go. It makes you wonder, is decaf coffee a diuretic? It’s a plausible question to ask. I have asked myself the exact same thing, which led me to investigate. Here’s what I found out.
What I’m about to tell you might be surprising. Is Decaf coffee a diuretic? The answer is no. There are studies that show you need at least 250-300 mg of caffeine which is like drinking 2-3 regular fully caffeinated cups of regular coffee.
Let me explain.
What is a Diuretic
According to Merriam-Webster, the word diuretic means “tending to increase the excretion of urine. It can be a prescription drug, a drink, or natural food.
Some foods that are considered diuretics are asparagus, beets, cabbage, cranberries, cucumbers, celery, and my favorite…watermelon.
Regular caffeinated coffee is a diuretic, just not a strong one. Like I said earlier, you would have to drink 2 to 3 cups for your coffee to be successful. So there is no need in worrying about decaf.
Is Decaf Caffeine Free?
Nope. Decaf coffee is not free from caffeine.
According to the USDA, coffee only needs to be 97% caffeine-free to be considered decaffeinated. But this still doesn’t mean that your decaf coffee is a diuretic. Even with minimal amounts of caffeine, there still isn’t enough.
Is Decaf Healthy?
Any amount of coffee consumed in moderation is healthy. When you have decaf, however, it has some negative side effects.
Decaf has been shown to increase fatty acids and raise your LDL cholesterol. It also doesn’t lower your heart disease risk like regular coffee does.
During roasting, antioxidants can be lost from coffee but decaf loses even more due to the steaming involved while decaffeinating the beans. So it doesn’t have all the antioxidant goodness that regular coffee has.
How is Caffeine Removed?
The decaffeination of coffee was accidentally discovered by a man named Ludwig Roselius. He found out when a ship full of beans became covered in saltwater during shipment overseas.
He figured out that it took the caffeine out without messing up the flavor so he decided to replicate this by steaming the beans with acids. Ludwig used benzene but this is a carcinogen so it’s no longer used. Instead, they use methylene chloride or ethyl acetate.
While the beans are still green, before roasting, there are four methods that can be used to decaffeinate.
This method extracts the caffeine by soaking the beans in boiling water, separating the elements, and washing with a chemical that binds to the caffeine molecule.
In this method, the beans are steamed for 30 minutes then rinsed with a chemical for 10 hours to remove the caffeine.
Swiss Water Process
This chemical-free process uses hot water. You soak the beans and then pass them through a charcoal filter to trap the caffeine. Then, the beans get soaked again to put the flavor back in.
Carbon Dioxide Process
This method is expensive and usually used only with large batches. Carbon dioxide is used in a chamber which draws out the caffeine and leaves behind the flavor molecules.
Decaf Coffee is Hard to Make
The decaffeination of coffee beans is a difficult process for the beans to undergo. It damages the flavor elements and makes the color change. This complicates the roasting process because roasting is determined by color change.
The biggest challenge is getting rid of only the caffeine while leaving all the other elements behind. Coffee has so many chemicals that change the smell and flavor so you have to be careful not to lose any of those.
How much Decaf can I consume?
You are allowed to safely consume 400 mg of caffeine per day. If you are sensitive to caffeine, you might want to avoid it all together.
You would need to consume more than 66 cups of decaf coffee per day to get to the amount of caffeine in the daily limit. No one is going to do that in a day unless you are trying to win a bet or beat a world record so I think it’s safe to say you are good.
There is a study linking coffee consumption to cardiovascular disease. They showed that drinking more than 6 cups per day, decaf or regular, can increase your risk.
After learning this, I would limit myself to less than 6 cups per day.
Decaf coffee will not make you pee more frequently because it is not a diuretic. It can help you sleep better because caffeine has been known to mess up sleep habits.
It’s smoother on the stomach because it’s less acidic than regular coffee.
It will help you be healthier and it does taste great with a milder flavor. It’s a good choice if you want the benefits without the caffeine side effects.