Foods High in Caffeine

Caffeine is a chemical that stimulates the central nervous system, muscles, heart, and other parts of the body that help control blood pressure. 

The bitter substance is found naturally in the leaves and seeds of over 60 plants. Man-made caffeine can also be produced and added to foods, medicines, and drinks.

Because of its mind-altering effects, it may be considered a psychoactive drug. However, it is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA.. To date, caffeine is the most widely consumed mind-altering drug in the world.

Although caffeine has some health benefits, too much of it can pose a danger to your health.

Why You Should Avoid Caffeine

Avoiding caffeine completely can be difficult because it’s a common ingredient in many foods and drinks. But in general, your caffeine intake should not exceed 400 milligrams a day — the amount in about four to five cups of coffee.

Too much caffeine in your diet can: 

Create Dependence

Because caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, regular use can cause mild physical dependence.  Although it is not considered dangerous, caffeine withdrawal can cause unpleasant side effects.

Some symptoms of caffeine withdrawal include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nausea
  • Muscle Pain

Interfere With Sleep

Caffeine intake during the day decreases your level of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin — the main part of melatonin, a sleep hormone naturally produced by your body. Low melatonin can lead to sleep deprivation and insomnia

However, how much caffeine affects your sleep schedule depends on your sensitivity and how quickly you digest the substance.

Elevate Blood Pressure

Although it is unclear why it happens, high doses of caffeine can temporarily increase your blood pressure. The effect can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke

Foods With Caffeine

1. Cola Nut

Cola nut is the seed of the cola plant. It is used widely in West African countries as part of cultural traditions. Cola nut is also used to make medicine for a variety of ailments. Cola extract is a common flavoring ingredient in caffeinated sodas and energy drinks. 

2. Chocolate 

Chocolate is made out of the cocoa plant. Cocoa and chocolate intake may result in a decreased risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

Continued

The amount of caffeine in chocolate products varies, but the more cocoa solids it contains, the higher the caffeine content. One ounce of dark chocolate contains around 12 milligrams of caffeine.

Bittersweet chocolates usually have higher caffeine concentrations than regular sweet chocolates and milk chocolates.

3. Guarana

Guarana is a plant named after the Guarani tribe, who brewed a drink using its seeds. Today, guarana is used as a medicine, although there is no solid scientific evidence to support its various uses. Guarana is also an ingredient in some caffeinated foods and drinks, such as snack bars and energy drinks.

4. Coffee 

Coffee is a drink made from coffee beans, which come from the Coffea arabica bush. It is one of the biggest natural sources of caffeine, with 95 milligrams of caffeine per eight-ounce cup. People primarily drink coffee to relieve mental and physical fatigue. 

5. Tea

Tea is a beverage made from steeping Camellia sinensis leaves in hot water. It is less caffeinated than coffee. However, tea contains natural plant compounds called polyphenols or tannins, which slow down the release of caffeine. Drinking tea gives longer-lasting effects of caffeine, compared to what you would feel after drinking coffee. 

Caffeine-Free Alternatives

1. Chicory Root 

Chicory is a plant used to create medicine, but it can also be consumed. When steeped in hot water, ground chicory root makes a good coffee alternative. 

2. Carob

Carob pods from the Ceratonia siliqua shrub or tree may be used to treat digestion problems as well as other conditions, although there’s not much scientific evidence to support its medicinal use. The ingredient can be a chocolate substitute, and carob flour and extracts are also used in some food products. 

3. Berries 

Berries are a healthy and quick source of energy.  

Blueberries, for example, contain a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps slow down digestions and causes a slower release of sugar into your bloodstream. This provides a longer-lasting energy boost than other caffeinated foods and beverages. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 05, 2020

Sources

SOURCES: 

FDA: “Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine is Too Much?”

Global Tea Initiative: “WHAT IS TEA?”

Journal of Caffeine Research: “Caffeine and Substance Use Disorders.”

Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology: “Cocoa, chocolate and cardiovascular disease.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “CAFFEINE WITHDRAWAL RECOGNIZED AS A DISORDER.”

Malaysian Journal of Nutrition: “Caffeine and theobromine levels in chocolate couverture and coating products.”

Nutrition Reviews: “Regulatory status of caffeine in the United States.”

Mayo Clinic: “Caffeine: How does it affect blood pressure?”

MedlinePlus: “Caffeine.”

Risk Management and Healthcare Policy: “Effects of caffeine on sleep quality and daytime functioning.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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