Decaf Caution

Published: October 25 2006


Coffee lovers who switch to decaf for health reasons assume the coffee is actually decaffeinated, but University of Florida researchers tested 22 decaffeinated coffee beverages and every serving but one contained some caffeine. You won’t find as much caffeine as in regular coffee, but UF expert Bruce Goldberger says if you need to avoid caffeine because of kidney disease or anxiety disorders, a little can add up.

Goldberger: “Decaf coffees contain caffeine, and if you’re sensitive to caffeine, then switching from regular coffee to decaf may not solve the problem. There still may be adverse effects, following the consumption of the decaf coffee.”

Even moderate levels of caffeine can trigger increases in anxiety, heart rate and blood pressure. But experts say for those who must eliminate caffeine, switching to decaf first might prove easier than going “cold turkey.”

Goldberger: “So when one drinks the beverage, it’s rewarding to the brain, even at low concentrations. So when you withhold the caffeine from the person, and they’re previously addicted, they do go through withdrawal.”

Doctors say for patients told simply to lower caffeine intake, decaf’s still a good option.

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