By Jennifer D'Angelo Friedman, SELF magazine
Every now and then, we down a cup of decaf and detect more than just a little buzz. Is this all in our imagination, or does decaf coffee have more "caf" than we thought?
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To find out, we spoke to registered dieticians Stephanie Clarke and Willow Jarosh, contributing editors at SELF and co-founders of C&J Nutrition. And while we were at it, we found out how much java you should drink, when you should drink it and when you should just say no to joe.
1. Is decaf coffee really decaf?
No, it's not 100 percent caffeine-free. Decaf contains a VERY small amount of caffeine, but it is not likely to have an effect on most people. Generic decaffeinated coffee contains about 5 mg of caffeine per 8 ounces as opposed to about 135 mg for regular generic coffee.
2. Is it healthier to have a small cup of regular instead?
Both options are OK in terms of health. Most coffee processors now use safe methods of decaffeinating coffee instead of using harmful chemicals like methylene chloride. However, if it's after 3 p.m., you might be better off with decaf or half-caf, since caffeine can make it hard to get to sleep later on. If it's earlier, the caffeine can be beneficial for boosting energy and brain power!
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3. How much coffee is it safe to have each day?
Research shows that for healthy people, the amount of caffeine in 3 cups of coffee per day (about 300-400 mg) has little health risk and shows some evidence of providing a health benefit.
4. What are the health benefits of coffee?
Some studies suggest that caffeine may lower the risk of Parkinson's disease and that any coffee -- decaf or regular -- may curb the risk of diabetes. Additional studies have linked coffee consumption with a lower risk for colon, mouth, throat, esophageal and endometrial cancers.
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Experts suspect that many of these health benefits may be attributed to antioxidant compounds in coffee called phenols. One in particular, chlorogenic acid, may play a role in the prevention of diabetes and Parkinson's disease. Not to mention, a little bit of java can also help boost your energy level and help you carry out daily tasks (like answering those morning e-mails or getting in a morning workout) with more ease, a result of the drink's caffeine content.
5. What are the risks of having too much?
Too much caffeine can cause trouble sleeping, nervousness, irritability, increased heart rate and blood pressure in some people. Since caffeine is a stimulant, if you have high blood pressure or a heart condition, you may need to limit the amount of caffeine to the equivalent of 1 cup of coffee or less per day.
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6. How much coffee is safe when you're pregnant?
If you're pregnant, the caffeine in coffee might increase the risk of miscarriage in some women. To be on the safe side, most experts recommend limiting coffee to 1 cup per day for healthy women. Steer clear of caffeine it if you have preeclampsia, a form of high blood pressure during pregnancy.
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