5 Surprising and Delicious Sources of Caffeine

March 24, 2017 Providence St. Joseph Health Team

surprising-sources-of-caffeine

There have been shirts, mugs and memes extolling the benefits of daily caffeine intake, particularly in the form of a morning cup of coffee. It’s a wake-up call that helps many people across the world start their day with a boost.

The average American consumes approximately 300 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day, which is about three to four cups of coffee. According to the Mayo Clinic, up to 400 mg of caffeine per day is considered safe for healthy adults. Some of the most common sources of caffeine are coffee, tea, soft drinks and energy drinks. Surprisingly, caffeine can be found in weight loss pills, pain relievers, breath fresheners, and decaffeinated coffee as well.

Caffeine is often regarded as a stimulant that is bad for your health; however there are certain benefits that may give you reason enough to pour yourself a second cup of coffee or tea.

Surprising benefits of caffeine

  • Improves memory
  • Increases focus
  • Enhances mood
  • Prevents weight gain
  • Reduces risk of kidney stones
  • Protects against diseases like:
    • Parkinson’s
    • Alzheimer’s
    • Type 2 Diabetes
    • Cataracts
    • Throat Disease
    • Stroke

Coffee is the most common source of caffeine, however the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines do not encourage non-coffee drinkers to start a coffee habit. So, if you’re not a coffee drinker but are still looking for a healthy energy boost, there are plenty of tasty alternatives to get your morning off to a good start.

Five unexpected and tasty sources of caffeine

  • Dark chocolate
    Caffeine is found naturally in cacao beans, so any type of chocolate will have a bit of caffeine. Dark chocolate contains a less processed form of the cacao bean, so it has a higher level of caffeine than milk chocolate.
  • Protein Bars
    Many protein bars are infused with as much as 50 mg of caffeine per bar. Which is is the equivalent of about 4 ounces, or a half-cup of coffee.
  • Instant oatmeal
    Caffeinated instant oatmeals are available--some made with whole grain oats--that contain about as much caffeine per serving as one cup of coffee. Or you can make your own caffeinated oatmeal by steeping it in coffee instead of hot water--word is, it's tasty.
  • Matcha (Green Tea)
    Matcha is finely ground green tea powder and is considered an antioxidant powerhouse. Drinking one glass of matcha provides as much caffeine as 10 glasses of green tea. However, it contains the amino acid L-theanine that has a calming effect and releases the tea-caffeine more slowly over time than other types of tea or coffee.
  • Guarana berries
    Guarana berries are a delicious fruity berry that grows in Brazil and are becoming more popular across the world. Guarana berries contain twice the caffeine as coffee beans and are known for improving bowel health, increasing energy levels, and aiding in weight loss. It is most commonly found as a powder and best enjoyed as tea.

Can a person become caffeine-tolerant?

Caffeine users commonly notice a change in their sleep patterns, or suffer from sleep disruptions throughout the night. These and other side effects like anxiety, restlessness, irritability, and reduced coordination may lessen in severity when caffeine is regularly consumed in high daily doses (e.g., five or more eight ounce cups of coffee per day). This effect is known as “complete tolerance,” which means they experience decreased responsiveness after repeated and prolonged use. So while a person can become caffeine-tolerant, they will most commonly still suffer insomnia and other side effects, but to a lesser degree than a casual caffeine user.

Caffeine, when consumed in moderation can actually be good for your health, although there are certain side effects of caffeine that may be undesirable. If you do not currently drink coffee, but need a morning boost, you might want to try a few alternate sources to get moving in the morning. However, be mindful of your intake and discourage your kids from developing a caffeine habit. {C}

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.


 

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