If you are like many adults in this busy world, one of the first things you do in the morning is make a cup of coffee. Caffeinated beverages give us a little pep in our step and a boost of energy to get through the day.
But how natural is the caffeine that you are consuming on a daily basis, and are there healthier ways to get the energy you need?
Coffee is the go-to source of caffeine for many people, and it is a source derived straight from nature. Coffee comes from beans that are ground and brewed to make a beverage. However, different types of coffee have varying levels of caffeine.
Tea is an excellent natural source of caffeine, but not all types of tea are caffeinated. Black tea has the most caffeine, and green tea has a reduced amount of caffeine. Meanwhile, some natural herbals teas, such as Seagate Olive Leaf Mint Tea, is 100 percent caffeine-free, making it perfect to sip before bedtime when you want to relax and unwind.
Chocolate naturally contains caffeine too, and the amount of caffeine it has depends on the type. For example, 100 percent cocoa chocolate has as much caffeine as about two and a half cups of coffee. However, milk chocolate only has about as much caffeine as a cup of black tea.
You can also get a dose of caffeine from yerba mate, a South American drink made from the dried and crushed leaves of a native plant. When prepared, it is sometimes referred to as Paraguay tea. Yerba mate offers more benefits than just caffeine and also contains polyphenols, antioxidants, and antimicrobials.
This is a South American plant that is native to the Amazon rainforest in Brazil and a natural source of caffeine. In addition to caffeine, guarana also has antioxidant and stimulant properties. Many commercially produced energy drinks contain guarana as one of their many ingredients.
Native to sub-Saharan Africa, the kola nut is a popular source of caffeine in some African cultures. It is a nut that grows on a tree and is traditionally chewed raw. It has a distinctive taste and can also be brewed into a drink.
Limiting Your Caffeine, Natural or Otherwise
Natural caffeine is a healthier choice than synthetic caffeine comprised of man-made compounds to achieve the desired “buzz” effect. The natural sources of caffeine listed here are better for your health than most energy drinks or sodas. However, you still want to limit the amount of even natural caffeine that you drink on a regular basis for health reasons. Caffeine intakes of 1.2 grams or more of in one dose constitutes caffeine toxicity, which can affect blood levels. A dose of 10 grams of caffeine at once can even be fatal. Signs of caffeine toxicity include nervousness, restlessness, rapid heart rate, tremors, and vomiting.
Some medications contain caffeine and can interact with natural caffeine sources that you are regularly consuming. You’ll often find caffeine in pain reliever medications used to treat headaches and migraines, for example. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the recommended amount of caffeine for adults is up to 400 milligrams per day, which comes out to about four cups of brewed coffee.