As the use of energy drinks and weight loss products continues, so do the concerns of many consumers regarding the ingredients being used in these types of products, and their possible harmful effects.
Not only have several lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers of energy drinks and weight loss products, but the FDA has also demanded that some manufacturers change their packaging due to false marketing claims, remove certain ingredients that are considered unsafe, and even stop the manufacturing of their products.
For these reasons, it is important that consumers read the ingredient label before purchasing an energy drink or weight loss product. An ingredient that is commonly found in these types of products is guarana. One’s first impression is that guarana sounds like a plant that would serve as a natural source of a healthy ingredient that would probably be beneficial to your body.
However, guarana, which is derived from the seeds of a South American tree, is actually very high in caffeine – in fact, Guarana has among the highest concentrations of caffeine in any plant. As a comparison, guarana may contain up to 3.6% to 5.8% caffeine by weight, whereas a cup of coffee only contains up to 2% of caffeine.
Caffeine has been tied to increasing physical and mental energy, weight loss, and improving athletic performance – it works by stimulating the central nervous system, heart, and muscles. Guarana also contains theophylline and theobromine, which are chemicals similar to caffeine. For these reasons, guana is a frequent addition to energy and weight loss products. Guarana has also been used as a flavoring ingredient in beverages and candy.
The fruit on the guarana plant is about the size of a coffee bean. The color of the fruit ranges from brown to red, and it contains black seeds which are partially covered by a white outgrowth that is attached to the black seed.
South America obtains most of its caffeine from guarana, and Brazil produces several soft drink beverages using guarana extract.