Guarana (pronounced gwa-ra-NAH) is a creeping shrub native to Venezuela and northern Brazil in the Amazon rain forest. The fruit are small, bright-red, and contains black seeds.
Guarana seeds are rich in caffeine and contain up to 4-8% caffeine, more than coffee beans, which contain approximately 1-2.5% caffeine. The seeds are also rich in tannins and xanthine alkaloids theophylline and theobromine.
Uses for GuaranaGuaraná is reputed to be a stimulant and increase mental alertness, fight fatigue, and increase stamina and physical endurance.
Guarana drinks and sodas are popular in Brazil (where guarana is considered to be a health tonic), almost as popular as cola-based sodas. Sweet, carbonated guarana drinks include the popular brands Guaraná Antarctica, Guaraná Brahma, and Kuat (from Coca-Cola Company). In North America, guarana has recently become a popular ingredient in energy drinks and teas.
Guarana is one of the richest sources of caffeine, containing up to three times the amount of caffeine as coffee. Unlike coffee, the amount of caffeine doesn't have to be listed on guarana drinks.
In addition to its stimulant properties, guarana is also a popular ingredient in herbal weight loss pills. Proponents claim that guarana may suppress appetite and increase fat-burning.
Benefits of GuaranaAn animal study examined the effect of 14 days of guarana supplementation on fat metabolism in sedentary and trained rats and found that the guarana's fat-burning effect is due to the caffeine content.
Decaffeinated guarana extracts had no effect on lipid metabolism.
A Journal of Psychopharmacology study found that guarana improved memory, mood and alertness at low (37.5 mg, 75 mg) vs. higher (150 mg, 300 mg) doses. However, another study examined the long-term use of guarana, caffeine, or placebo on the cognition of 45 older individuals. There were no significant effects of guarana on cognition.
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