It sounds very exotic and it certainly is! Guarana comes from Brazil and may sound strange to us, but it has been used for hundreds of years for its toning and aphrodisiac properties!
Guarana: what is it
Guarana is a plant that got its name from the Guarani tribe in the Amazon, which traditionally used its fruits to make a hot drink. Also known as Paullinia cupana, it is a climbing plant, famous for its fruit, which to many resembles the human eye!
Nowadays 70% of guarana production is used in the manufacture of soft drinks and energy drinks, and the remaining 30% is processed to make powder. From this powder comes its extract, which is often found in dietary supplements. Guarana powder is an essential ingredient in coffee substitutes, but also in energy chewing gum!
Guarana is rich in antioxidants such as caffeine, theobromine, tannins, saponins and catechins. In fact, the antioxidant profile of guarana is similar to that of green tea (1). This way it protects our cells from free radicals as well as premature aging.
Guarana and weight loss
Guarana will also be found in many weight loss supplements. Given its high caffeine content, many argue that it may increase our metabolism, resulting in better burns, but more research is needed. (1)
Guarana for physical and mental fatigue
Guarana is often found in energy drinks but also in energy supplements. This is no accident, as it is an excellent source of caffeine! Specifically, its fruits appear to contain four to six times more caffeine than coffee seeds, according to research. This helps to stimulate the body and reduce fatigue.
Indeed, it has been studied a great deal about its effect on cognitive function. A study in young adults found that taking a multivitamin supplement containing guarana contributed to improved cognitive performance and decreased mental fatigue compared to those taking placebo (2).
Guarana in memory and mood
In a double-blind study, the effects of four different doses of guarana extract (37.5mg, 75mg, 150mg and 300mg) on cognitive function and mood of the participants were studied. They found that the two lower doses worked better than the two higher doses, with guarana improving secondary memory, increasing alertness, as well as mood! (3)
These findings are not only related to the caffeine contained in this fruit, but also to its other constituents.
Guarana: Side effects
For most adults, guarana is probably safe. However, the fact that this plant contains high doses of caffeine can have side effects such as insomnia, nervousness, increased pulses, diuretic effect, stomach upset etc.
Especially people who are sensitive to caffeine should start with small doses to see if it affects them. This category includes those with high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems, irritable bowel syndrome, osteoporosis, incontinence, anxiety disorders, diarrhea and more. In addition, those with diabetes should also pay attention as it can affect their sugar control. (4)
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