Guarana is a plant native to the Amazonian basin in Brazil. Its binomial name is Paullinia cupana and it’s a climbing plant highly valued for its fruit. When it fully matures the guarana fruit gets to the size of a coffee berry. It is similar in look to the human eye, a black seed in its core, covered by a white aril, which in turn is encased in a red shell.
Guarana extract is produced by processing the seeds into a powder. The tribes of the Amazon rainforest have used it for centuries because of its therapeutic characteristics. It is rich in a wide range of stimulants, such as theophylline, theobromine, and caffeine. It also has a high content of antioxidants, such as saponins, tannins, and catechins.
Nowadays, around 70% of all the guarana produced in the world is used by the beverage companies for soft and energy drinks, while the other 30% is processed into a powder. So, let’s go over the 12 benefits of guarana, all of them scientifically proven.
Guarana is rich in antioxidants
Guarana is filled with compounds which have antioxidant properties, such as theobromine, caffeine, tannins, catechins, and saponins. In many ways, guarana has a similar antioxidant profile to that of green tea.
The reason why antioxidants are so beneficial is that they neutralize the molecules which can potentially harm your organism also known as free radicals. Free radicals can interact with certain parts of the cells and cause damage which has been linked to accelerated aging, heart disease, cancer development, and other conditions. (1,2)
Several studies have shown that the antioxidant properties exhibited by guarana can combat the growth of cancerous cells and decrease the risk of heart disease and skin aging. All in all, the compounds found in guarana have immense benefits for your overall health.
Guarana can decrease fatigue and increase focus
Guarana is one of the most common ingredients of popular energy drinks. As already mentioned in the first entry on our list, it is a great source of caffeine, which we all know is a potent stimulant when it comes to maintaining focus and mental clarity. The seeds of guarana may, in fact, contain 4-5 times more caffeine than coffee beans.
Caffeine’s working mechanism is to block the effects of adenosine, a compound which helps the brain relax. It binds to the adenosine receptors and prevents them from being activated. One study found that subjects who took a vitamin supplement which had guarana felt less tired while doing several tests, compared to those who only took a placebo.
Guarana may help you study better
Studies have shown that guarana may be able to improve the ability to learn and remember. One study, in particular, examined the effects of different guarana doses on the subjects’ mood and learning process. They were divided into separate groups, each of them took no guarana, 40mg, 80mg, 150mg or 300mg respectively.(3)
Those who took either 40mg or 80mg of guarana had the highest test scores. Taking into account that low doses of guarana also provide low doses of caffeine, it is assumed that other compounds in guarana besides caffeine may also be partially responsible.
Another study tried to compare guarana with ginseng, which is another stimulant. Even though both guarana and ginseng improved both memory and physical performance, people who took guarana were more focused on their tasks and finished them a lot faster.
What’s more, studies done on animals have shown that guarana consumption can also improve memory. So, if you wish to improve your mood and better focus on any mental or physical challenges ahead, you can’t go wrong with guarana.
Guarana may help with fat loss
Latest research has estimated that approximately one in three American adults are overweight or obese. This is an increasingly growing issue because there’s a proven link between obesity and many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
Guarana can help in this regard since it possesses certain properties which may help weight loss. As we already mentioned previously, it has a high content of caffeine, which may increase your metabolic rate by 4-11% in the course of 12 hours. A faster working metabolism means that your body will burn more calories while resting.
Additionally, test-tube studies have found that guarana consumption may actually suppress the genes which help fat cell creation and promote the activation of genes which slow it down.(4,5) However, there’s still more research to be made on how guarana affects fat cell creation as this topic is still not clearly understood.
If you carry a lot of excess weight and are having trouble getting rid of it, then guarana is a great choice for you to speed up the weight loss process without using any unhealthy shortcuts.
Guarana could make your heart healthier
It’s been estimated that various heart diseases are responsible for one in four deaths in the US. Guarana can decrease the risk of developing heart disease in two ways.
First, guarana contains antioxidants which seem to aid blood flow and prevent the creation of blood clots. Second, research has shown that guarana can reduce the oxidation of the “bad” LDL cholesterol. Oxidized LDL cholesterol can cause the build-up of plaque in the arteries.(6)
It’s been shown that adults who consume guarana have around 25% less oxidized LDL cholesterol than adults of a similar age who don’t consume it. It’s worth noting however that most of the research on the relation between guarana and heart health comes from test-tube studies. More studies based on humans subjects need to be done before any definitive recommendations can be made.(7)
In any case, in addition to doing regular physical activity, consuming guarana is another thing you could do to ensure that your heart is healthy and functioning optimally.
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