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This is Part 5 of a 7 part series on green tea and caffeine.
Is decaf green tea for you?
If you are thinking about regular use of decaffeinated green tea, there are three important things you should know before you decide:
Can a little caffeine help you?
Healthy people can benefit from small amounts of caffeine. Natural sources of caffeine provide helpful energy and alertness.
Also studies show that caffeine may assist the anti-cancer activities of the antioxidant polyphenol catechins from green tea.
Green tea caffeine combined with green tea catechins reduces more abdominal fat than green tea without any caffeine.
Changing the variety to reduce temporary effects of caffeine
There are hundreds of green teas you can choose. Each one has a different taste and has different amounts of caffeine and antioxidants.
In your exploration of a wide variety of green teas, you will probably find some regular green teas that have a smoother effect on you than a decaf green tea, even though those teas have more caffeine.
You can also change the rate of absorption of green tea caffeine by drinking your tea with meals and spreading your total intake out during the day.
Drinking green tea with meals may also help you block cholesterol and fat.
Are you losing valuable antioxidants with decaffeinated green tea?
Your decaffeinated green tea may have less antioxidant polyphenol catechins than regular green tea.
Researchers at UCLA measured the antioxidant capacity and polyphenol content of 18 teas.
They found that decaffeinated tea had around half the antioxidant capacity of regular green tea.
Regular tea had ORAC antioxidant capacity values ranging from 728 to 1686 units (trolox equivalents/g) and decaffeinated tea tested at only 507 to 845 units.
The antioxidant polyphenol content (specifically, flavanols, which include catechins and EGCG) was also measured and they found that regular teas range from 21 to 103 mg/gram while decaffeinated teas have only 4 to 39 mg/gram (Henning, 2003).
The loss of antioxidant polyphenols catechins may be related to the tea decaffeination process. Three processes are widely used with different results.
If your decaffeinated green tea does not list the decaffeination process on the label, please contact the manufacturer for detailed information.
If you must restrict caffeine, what are your best options?
You can try flavored decaffeinated green tea for variety of tastes. These are usually sold in teabags.
If you have no medical restrictions against caffeine, keep trying different regular green teas prepared differently as you learn what your body can handle at different times.
Historically, there’s been no known harm from a little caffeine for healthy people.
After all, learning everything there is to know about daily green tea is a life-long adventure!
Continue to Part 6
More in our series about caffeine
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This page last updated by Sharon Jones on August 9, 2013
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