Based on a few of the responses to the last blog (as well as some personal e-mails), I thought I should go into a bit more detail about coffee, decaf and some potential substitutes.
First of all, in addition to all of the caffeine-related issues discussed in our last entry, let’s not forget that coffee beans are generally a heavily-sprayed crop, grown with the “assistance” of a number of pesticides and other chemicals. One pesticide in particular (D-D-7) is actually banned here in the states, but we still import coffee beans from countries that continue to use it.
Plus, who drinks plain black coffee anymore? Most folks have their java with some combination of milk, cream, sugar, artificial sweeteners and God knows what else. The net effect of both regular and decaffeinated coffee is increased acidity in the bloodstream, which, once again, is a hallmark of compromised health.
Speaking of decaf, is it really the lesser of the two evils? Sorry, but no. There have been a number of studies that have linked both decaf and regular coffee to increased inflammation and homocysteine, as well as escalating cholesterol levels; all of which increase heart attack risk. In fact, many health experts have argued that decaf could actually be worse. Decaffeinated coffee is usually made from beans that are even more acidic than regular coffee beans. This might explain why the Iowa Women’s Health Study showed that higher amounts of decaf (four cups per day) was linked to increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. And from the “more bizarre chemicals” department, keep in mind that 80% of all decaffeinated coffee is processed with solvents like methylene chloride or ethyl acetate, the residues of which can still be found in end product.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I hear you saying, “but how bad can a little coffee be?” Well, while I would never want to promote coffee drinking – to be fair – I must say that the occasional cup probably won’t do much damage. But again, how many folks truly drink it occasionally? And also remember that it’s not JUST the cup of coffee in question. It’s the combination of all the other things you ingest that day, in addition to the coffee, that can create problems for you.
As for substitutes, herbal tea should be your first choice. Green tea, in particular, has some excellent antioxidant properties. Just make sure you don’t load it up with a bunch of sweetener. (A little pure maple syrup or agave nectar should do the trick if you must sweeten it.) Also, look for a product called Teecchino. It’s a pretty tasty caffeine-free herbal coffee substitute. It doesn’t really taste like coffee but has enough of the same properties to make for an excellent substitute. Check it here: http://www.teeccino.com/