At first decaffeinated green tea seems to be GREAT! Sure, excessive caffeine consumption does more harm than good.
But that’s not the full story.
There are three important points to keep in mind before automatically choosing decaffeinated green tea….
1. Small amounts of caffeine are beneficial to your health!
Small amounts of caffeine make you feel alert, counteracting any feelings of fatigue.
This enables you to get things done and feeling energized!
Caffeine also raises blood pressure, stimulates the kidneys and is a major ingredient in most weight loss products because it’s a natural appetite suppressant. In combination with caffeine green tea catechins burn off even MORE fat than without any caffeine!
Read about losing weight with green tea: green tea fat burner.
Did you notice the word “small” above? That’s important!
If you start drinking buckets of green tea, coffee or soda with caffeine in it over an extended period of time you’ll probably develop insomnia (unable to fall asleep), nervousness, irritability, anxiety, dizziness, muscle twitching, or headaches.
Read more about possible side effects related to caffeine: green tea side effects.
2. Loss of green tea catechins
A 2003 study showed that green tea extract has a chemopreventive effect – the capacity to radically absorb oxygen – thanks to the flavanol content in general, or catechins in particular.
Read more on catechins: polyphenols.
They found that regular green tea contained more catechins (32-203 mg/g) than decaffeinated green tea (5-39 mg/g).
Consequently, regular green tea has a much higher anti-cancer effect.
Moreover, other researchers even found that “caffeine contributes in an important way to the inhibitory effects [of green tea on carcinogenesis – the development of cancer]”.
With the loss of catechins, other health benefits, such as boosting your metabolism, preventing diabetes, acne or cavities are lost as well. Read more about green tea and health.
If you are sensitive to caffeine or you just prefer decaf green tea, please do so. Extracting caffeine doesn’t mean all green tea ingredients have been destroyed…you’ll only need to drink more to enjoy the same effects as with regular green tea.
In case of green tea weight loss products it’s the caffeine in combination with green tea antioxidants that help you to burn more fat faster.
3. Extract caffeine without losing green tea catechins
It depends on what green tea you buy and how the caffeine has been extracted whether you maintain most of the antioxidants.
A 2006 study achieved optimal caffeine extraction using high-pressure extraction with CO2. A staggering 98% of caffeine was isolated without any significant impact on valuable catechins.
When you want to buy a green tea product, make sure to check the labels on the percentage of catechins, or better yet the EGCG content but if you want to get the most out of your cup of green tea….just drink the regular version!
Sources “decaffeinated green tea”
Henning SM, Fajardo-Lira C, Lee HW, Youssefian AA, Go VL, Heber D. Catechin content of 18 teas and a green tea extract supplement correlates with the antioxidant capacity. Nutr Cancer. 2003;45(2):226-35.
Huang MT, Xie JG, Wang ZY, Ho CT, Lou YR, Wang CX, Hard GC, Conney AH. Effects of Tea, Decaffeinated Tea, and Caffeine on UVB Light-induced Complete Carcinogenesis in SKH-1 Mice: Demonstration of Caffeine as a Biologically Important Constituent of Tea. Cancer Research. 1997;57:2623-2629.
Perva-Uzunalić A, Škerget M, Knez Z, Weinreich B, Otto F, Grüner S. Extraction of active ingredients from green tea (Camellia sinensis): Extraction efficiency of major catechins and caffeine. Food Chemistry. 2006;96(4):597-605.