Can I Drink Decaf Coffee While Pregnant?
As we all know, taking coffee regularly is detrimental for pregnant women due to its key ingredient viz. caffeine. There are huge health risks of using caffeine. Caffeine can cause miscarriage, defects during birth, stillbirths and so on.
Caffeine is a stimulant. It activates your central nervous system and causes your heart rate and blood pressure to rise. Moreover, it also causes you to urinate more often, eventually instigating dehydration.
So, what about Decaf coffee? Is it safe to drink Decaf Coffee while Pregnant?
How much of caffeine ingredients can get from the regular coffee during the decaffeinating process? This article has been edified to answer all the pregnant ladies out there who ponder ‘Can I Drink Decaf Coffee While Pregnant?’
It is really hard to frame conclusive studies on pregnant women. That is because you cannot risk their life as well as baby’s life for the sake of end results. Not just that, different factors such as stress levels, genetics, health problems, etc. also come into the picture.
Thus, it is really challenging to decide whether or not caffeine could be the main cause behind any pregnancy-related problems. But, it is still better to be safe than sorry. And so, it is highly recommended to avoid regular coffee intake during your pregnancy.
What is ‘Decaf’?
For a coffee to be called as a ‘Decaffeinated coffee,’ it must not contain more than 3% of caffeine constituent. Decaffeinating coffee beans is done through several methods. Some make use of natural process like Swiss Water process, whereas other use Indirect or direct decaffeinating methods using organic solvents.
Different approaches of Decaffeination:
Swiss Water Process:
This method does not involve adding any kind of chemicals for extracting caffeine. Rather, green coffee extract (GCE) can be used for caffeine extraction. GCE is nothing but a solution comprising of various water-soluble solid components that are already there in the green coffee as well, excluding caffeine.
Swiss Water Process works to stabilize these water-soluble components in the GCE with the help of gradient pressure between GCE and green coffee. This gradient pressure is what forces the caffeine composition in the green coffee to transfer into the GCE. The GCE is then infiltrated via carbon absorbers that extract most of the caffeine components. Thereby leaving just other green coffee constituents in GCE.
Here’s the kicker,
Now that GCE lacks caffeine again, it is reused to extract caffeine from green coffee, and the whole process continues. Swiss Water Process can extract coffee as efficiently as up to 99.9% by mass.
Dichloromethane and Ethyl Acetate are two organic solvents for decaffeination.
- Direct method
It involves steaming of coffee beans for 30 minutes. It helps to open the pores. Then, they are repetitively washed with Ethyl acetate or dichloromethane for approximately 8 to 10 hours, further extracting caffeine.
The residual solvent containing all the caffeine elements should drain out. And you should steam the coffee beans again to remove any left-over solvent.
- Indirect method
In this method, the coffee beans are soaked in hot water, further producing a very strong coffee pot that contains extracted caffeine. This soaking time lasts for several hours.
After separating the beans, the strong pot of coffee (water-based) is then treated with either dichloromethane or ethyl acetate for caffeine extraction. The residual water (containing all the coffee bean elements and flavors) moves to the beans so they can reabsorb all the flavors.
How does this coffee gain its rich flavor?
After repeated cycles, the beans absorb all the essential oils, flavors and richness from the water without any amount of caffeine whatsoever. These coffee beans are then dried and roasted.
The whole process is termed as ‘Indirect’ because the beans do not come in contact with the organic solvent at all.
You might be wondering, how to recognize the decaf process?
Sometimes you might see ‘Naturally decaffeinated’ written on the coffee label. It means that the coffee has undergone indirect decaffeination using ethyl acetate as a solvent. Even though this is not a natural process, it is still referred as natural because the solvent is naturally occurring in nature.
Which Decaf Coffee is safe for pregnant women?
If the coffee has ‘Naturally decaffeinated’ or ‘Swiss water processed’ labeled onto it, then it won’t contain harmful solvents. Swiss Water Decaf is extremely safe as it is 99.9% caffeine-free, so pregnant women can safely drink such coffees.
What are the odds?
Conversely, you still need to be careful drinking large amounts of decaf. Because you don’t really know what other ingredients in the coffee could be harmful other than caffeine. Not all the elements present in the coffee are safe for pregnant women.
Moreover, recent scientific research shows that decaffeinate coffee beans cause the LDL cholesterol levels to increase in your blood. Further, this can lead to several other issues including heart risks. Moreover, decaf coffee causes stimulation of gastric acids. So, you must avoid over-consumption if you have gastritis problems.
Most experts agree on the fact that you can consume about 150 mg to 200 mg of caffeine per day to be on the safe side. Or, you can just go for decaf coffee for safer pregnancy. However, you need to remember that most decaf coffee will still comprise of some amounts of caffeine composition. So, it is better to limit your intake.
Not just that,
Other food items like tea and chocolates contain caffeine, so you need to be careful while consuming them as well.
Decaf coffee beans from renowned manufacturers will contain either no caffeine at all or as low as 2 mg to 12 mg.
Comprehensively, be it decaf or regular, coffee by nature is a diuretic. Meaning, it might cause you to frequently urinate, thereby reducing fluid levels in your body and causing dehydration. Even if you can handle the effects of coffee, you need to remember that your baby cannot. So, it is better to limit your intake to 1 to 2 cups of decaf per day.