Many of us are loath to give up regular tea and coffee and try decaf, but the experiences of nutritionist Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD may help change your mind.
Sass found that caffeine just didn’t agree with her, even though she loved the taste and smell of coffee. The caffeine sapped her energy, as well as increasing her anxiety levels and irritating her digestive system.
When Sass gave up caffeine, she says she felt better within days. Her sleep improved, and her energy levels returned to normal. She didn’t want to miss out on the enjoyment of coffee or tea, so she decided to find delicious caffeine-free alternatives, and some of them have health benefits too.
Here are her suggestions for the best decaf coffee and tea:
Best Decaf Coffee
Sass says her current favorite brand is Mount Hagen Organic Fair Trade Instant Coffee ($13) which she buys from Amazon.
Mount Hagen freeze dries their coffee without any form of additives or preservatives, and the decaf process uses carbon dioxide and water, which preserves the flavor and doesn’t add chemicals.
As far as nutrition goes, decaf coffee remains high in the antioxidants and nutrients found in regular coffee, which include magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins. Drinking decaf and regular coffee are linked to reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and may help protect the liver.
Although the caffeine in coffee is linked to mental performance, Sass says that even decaf can boost your brain, due to the antioxidants and bioactive compounds it contains.
Best Decaf Tea
The carbon dioxide and water process to remove caffeine from tea is better than a chemical solvent. The carbon dioxide method preserves most of the antioxidants in the tea, and these have been shown to reduce inflammation and protect cells from aging and damage from disease.
Sass likes Yogi’s Pure Green Decaf ($6), again from Amazon. She says that it has a smooth taste, and a nice touch is that each bag of tea leaves comes with an uplifting message on the tag.
It’s important to note that decaf coffee and tea aren’t totally caffeine-free, but they have to be at least 97% free of it. An 8-ounce serving of decaf coffee may contain 2-7 mg of caffeine, but that’s nothing compared to 50-65 mg in an espresso, or 95-165 mg in a brewed cup. Single tea bags may contain up to 10 mg of caffeine.
There’s two ways to ditch caffeine – go cold turkey, or wean yourself off it gradually. If you want to avoid the withdrawal symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, and irritability, weaning yourself off may be best.
If you choose the cold turkey method, you may feel pretty miserable for around three days, but after that you should feel better.