Guarana extract is mainly known for being a natural source of caffeine. It comes from the guarana plant, which is also known as Paullinia cupana. Since it needs hot and humid climate conditions to thrive, guarana predominantly comes from the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.
Guarana seed extract has been used by Indigenous Peoples in South America for hundreds of years. In recent years, the benefits of guarana extract have popularized health products and wellness drinks containing this antioxidant- and caffeine-rich ingredient. Like the tribes in the Amazon, guarana berry extract is most commonly used in various beverages.
What is Guarana Extract?
Guarana extract is a potent powder that comes from the guarana plant. Since guarana naturally grows in South America, many Western countries are not familiar with the plant. Guarana is a climbing plant, so it grows upwards like a vine. The fruit that grows on the guarana plant is red berries, which contain a black seed that is surrounded by white flesh. Though the berries and seeds of the guarana plant are edible, it is the seeds that are the most valuable.
Guarana extract is made from the seeds of the guarana plant. The guarana seeds are collected, roasted, and ground into a fine powder. This is how guarana extract is made. Once the seeds are turned into powdered guarana extract, it is easy to mix. Only a small amount of guarana extract is needed to experience the benefits.
Guarana berries and seeds are very bitter, so they do not have a pleasant taste on their own. This is why it is more common to consume guarana extract that is mixed with other ingredients rather than eat the guarana berries or guarana seeds by themselves.
What is Guarana Extract Good For?
Guarana extract benefits include stimulant and medicinal properties. It is desired by many for its ability to increase energy levels, fight fatigue, and improve cognition.
Guarana berry extract is also a great source of free radical-fighting antioxidants, which can prevent cellular and DNA damage as well as oxidative stress. This can help reduce the risk of serious diseases, including cancer.
Guarana extract benefits include:
- Increased energy levels
- Reduced fatigue and tiredness
- Improved cognition
- Improved attention, focus, clarity, and mood
- Antioxidants may reduce the risk of disease
- Antioxidants may improve skin health
- May aid weight loss
Guarana seed extract is good for many people. Athletes commonly consume drinks containing guarana extract, such as natural energy drinks. The natural source of caffeine may help with their athletic performance and endurance. For the boost of cognition, guarana may be a good option to help with productivity. Busy students and working professionals may appreciate the clarity and mental energy that guarana provides. Anyone looking to reduce the risk of disease and encourage overall wellness may also be drawn to guarana extract.
Drinks made with guarana seed extract have been used for hundreds of years — not only for the mental and physical energy boost, but also for the health benefits. The tribes native to the Amazon forest, including the Guarani and Sateré-Maué tribes, domesticated and cultivated guarana plants to make herbal remedies and tonics with the seeds. These drinks were used to treat various ailments, including headaches, diarrhea, fevers, dysentery, and more.
How Much Caffeine is in Guarana Extract?
Guarana extract is a caffeine powerhouse. According to WebMD, guarana seed extract has among the highest concentration of caffeine in any plant: between 3.6 percent and 5.8 percent by weight. Coffee, on the other hand, has 2 percent of caffeine by weight. In many cases, guarana extract has up to two or three times the amount of caffeine as coffee.
Guarana also contains the chemicals theophylline and theobromine, which can have stimulating effects similar to caffeine. The natural caffeine in guarana combined with these chemicals make guarana a potent energy booster and natural stimulant.
Guarana Extract Benefits
Guarana extract benefits are largely responsible for the plant’s popularity today. People have consumed guarana berry and seed extract for hundreds of years despite the bitter taste. When masked with other flavors, guarana can be used in delicious drinks that offer the benefits of guarana extract.
1. Increased Energy Levels
With caffeine comes increased energy levels. It is easy to see why guarana extract is a coveted ingredient in wellness products like natural energy drinks. Guarana offers a natural energy boost so it is appealing to people who want to avoid artificial stimulants.
Small amounts of guarana extract offer a decent amount of caffeine, making guarana beverages a healthy alternative to coffee, tea, and other caffeinated drinks like conventional energy drinks.
For people who struggle with fatigue, tiredness, and low energy levels, guarana may be one solution. Evidence suggests that guarana is a suitable treatment for people with chronic fatigue syndrome. Studies have shown that cancer patients who experience fatigue as a side effect of their medications have increased energy levels when taking guarana extract.
2. Improved Cognition
Guarana extract is an energy booster as well as a brain booster. Research has confirmed that caffeine has cognitive-enhancing properties. Since guarana extract is one of the most potent sources of caffeine, it can help with the following cognitive functions:
- Response time
Caffeine may also prevent cognitive decline in older populations. According to Mayo Clinic, mild cognitive impairment is a normal part of aging. This is why some people experience memories and knowledge “slipping” their mind. However, there are ways to prevent and prolong cognitive decline, including adopting healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating a diet that is rich in fruits, such as guarana berry, and vegetables.
3. Source of Antioxidants
Anyone who takes an interest in health and wellness likely knows the importance of antioxidants. MedlinePlus recommends consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are natural sources of antioxidants, since they are associated with health benefits. Some of the benefits of antioxidants include: reduces risk of disease like cancer, prevents cell damage, and encourages overall health.
Since guarana extract comes from a fruit, it is no surprise that it is an excellent source of antioxidants. Specifically, guarana extract contains tannins, which are a type of polyphenols. These act as antioxidants that protect against free radical damage and oxidative stress. When the body is under oxidative stress, cellular damage can occur. Damage to cells and DNA can result in the development of various diseases.
Antioxidants are also good for skin health. Consuming antioxidants and applying them topically can help prevent premature aging and other forms of skin damage, including dark spots, hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles.
4. Weight Loss
There is preliminary research that suggests that guarana extract may aid in weight loss. WebMD even states that guarana may increase weight loss.
Like many guarana extract benefits, the weight loss benefits of guarana are likely attributed to its high caffeine content. Not only does caffeine increase your energy for exercise, it can also suppress genes that produce fat cells.
Research also suggests that caffeine can boost your metabolism, meaning you will burn more calories. When you operate at a caloric deficit, you are more likely to lose weight than maintain or gain weight.
More research is needed to confirm the correlation between guarana extract and weight loss, but the existing research is promising. When combined with exercise and a healthy diet, guarana extract may help with various fitness goals.
5. Reduced Risk of Disease
Though guarana extract is popular among athletes, college students, working professionals, and other groups who are busy mentally and physically, guarana extract may be good for overall health. This is due to the fact that it may reduce the risk of various diseases.
One of the most notable diseases that guarana may help prevent is heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. Since heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it may be helpful to take preventative measures against it. One way is through a healthy lifestyle.
Guarana’s potential to reduce the risk of disease may be attributed to its high antioxidant content. Antioxidants protect against DNA and cellular damage. When DNA and cells get damaged, the body may develop diseases like cancer. Some have suggested that guarana has anti-cancer effects, but the findings are still underway. Still, guarana is used as part of a treatment for some cancer patients, especially those who struggle with fatigue.
The research on guarana’s effects on disease prevention and treatment is still in the preliminary stages, so more studies are needed.
6. Athletic Performance
There is a reason why professional athletes and frequent gym-goers flock to energy drinks — they may help improve athletic performance. Athletes require a lot of energy, focus, stamina, endurance, and so on. They also need to recover quickly from any injuries so they can continue their training without frequent interruptions.
Some sources suggest that guarana extract can help athletes with their goal of improved athletic performance. One study found that high-level pentathlon athletes experienced improved speed and reaction time as part of a trial involving guarana drinks. The researchers concluded that guarana extract, in combination with carbohydrates and other sources of caffeine, helped to improve the athletes’ performance.
Other Benefits of Guarana Extract
According to WebMD, other uses and benefits of guarana extract may include aiding the following symptoms and health conditions:
- Low blood pressure
- Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea)
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
The popularity of guarana extract among health and wellness products and consumers alike is rapidly growing, and it’s clear to see why. Guarana extract packs a potent amount of caffeine and antioxidants in small doses. The benefits of guarana extract, especially those related to energy, cognition, and athletic performance, make it an ingredient that people look for in natural energy drinks and other tonics.