Decaf Coffee: Good or Bad?

Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages worldwide and is commonly used to help with drowsy mornings. Some drink coffee for the jolt of caffeine and others simply enjoy the experience of sipping a hot cup of joe. Caffeine is a potent nutrient with a number of side effects and it is often necessary for individuals to limit their intake. Decaf coffee provides a way to enjoy a beloved beverage without the effects associated with caffeine intake.

What is decaf coffee?

Decaf coffee is nutritionally similar to caffeinated coffee apart from the caffeine content. (1) Before the coffee beans are roasted and ground, they are processed in a way that removes about 95% of the caffeine.

Coffee is also packed with antioxidants and other nutrients that may provide a number of health benefits. Fortunately, these properties are preserved during the decaffeination process.

Antioxidants and nutrients in decaf coffee

Coffee is the main source of antioxidants in Western societies.(2) Coffee contains high levels of polyphenols, such as chlorogenic acids, which are known for their health benefits. (2) They have antioxidant properties that protect the body from harmful molecules that can cause oxidative stress. Damage caused by oxidative stress has been linked to chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

Main nutrients found in a cup of decaf coffee: (3)

  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Niacin
  • Calcium
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin K

Possible Health Benefits

Although there aren’t many reliable human studies looking at the health benefits associated with decaf coffee, there has been some evidence that suggests consumption may lower risk of:

  • Type 2 diabetes (4)
  • Some cancers (5)
  • Premature death (1)
  • Lower blood pressure (6)


Decaffeinated coffee and caffeinated coffee are both healthy beverages packed with antioxidants. They are both associated with a lower risk of developing several chronic diseases. Decaf coffee has many of the same benefits as caffeinated coffee, but without the side effects of caffeine. It allows individuals who need to limit their caffeine intake to enjoy the taste and health benefits of coffee without the side effects associated with caffeine.


  1. Poole R, Kennedy OJ, Roderick P, Fallowfield JA, Hayes PC, Parkes J. Coffee consumption and health: umbrella review of meta-analyses of multiple health outcomes. BMJ [Internet]. 2017. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.j5024
  2. Mills CE, Oruna-Concha MJ, Mottram DS, Gibson GR, Spencer JPE. The effect of processing on chlorogenic acid content of commercially available coffee. Food Chem. 2013;141:3335–40. PubMed [Internet]. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2013.06.014
  3. FoodData Central [Internet]. Available from:
  4. Ding M, Bhupathiraju SN, Chen M, van Dam RM, Hu FB. Caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and a dose-response meta-analysis. Diabetes Care. 2014;37:569–86. PubMed [Internet]. DOI: 10.2337/dc13-1203
  5. Alicandro G, Tavani A, La Vecchia C. Coffee and cancer risk: a summary overview. European Journal of Cancer Prevention. 2017;26:424–432. PubMed [Internet]. DOI: 10.2337/dc13-1203
  6. Wedick NM, Brennan AM, Sun Q, Hu FB, Mantzoros CS, van Dam RM. Effects of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee on biological risk factors for type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial. Nutr J. 2011;10:93. PubMed [Internet]. DOI: 10.1186/1475-2891-10-93

Written by: Marguerite Drowica, Dietetic Intern, Hunter College

Reviewed by: Nazirber Maduro, RDN, CDN, CDCES

Nazirber Maduro is a bilingual registered dietitian and nutritionist who believes that healthy and delicious food should be enjoyed at any stage in life. She helps people transform the way they eat and find joy in food through the practice of food and lifestyle medicine.

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