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 11 benefits of guarana, all of them scientifically proven.
Health and fat-burning benefits of guarana
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 aid in 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.
Guarana may help with pain relief
Amazonian tribes have also found use in the guarana plant as a pain reliever. These pain-relieving properties are because of the oft-mentioned high content of caffeine. Caffeine has its role in managing pain, as it binds to and blocks adenosine receptors.
Two of these, A1 and A2a, are crucial in stimulating a feeling of pain. When caffeine binds to them, it has the ability to decrease these pain sensations. This is one of the reasons why caffeine is a common compound found in many over-the-counter pain relief meds.
Whenever you’re feeling some kind of a pain in some area of your body, try drinking some guarana and see if it goes away.
Guarana may improve and cleanse your skin
Because of its potent antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, which we talked about in the earlier entries on our list, guarana is also popular in the cosmetics industry as an essential ingredient in all kinds of lotions, anti-aging creams, hair products, and soaps.
Additionally, its high caffeine content aids blood flow to the small blood vessels in the skin. Studies have shown that the antioxidants present in guarana have the ability to significantly reduce skin damage related to aging.
Animal studies have shown that cosmetics that contain guarana can decrease sagging in the cheeks, minimize the formation of wrinkles around the eyes and increase skin tightness.(8)
As women form a much higher percentage of the consumers in the cosmetic industry, they would find it really beneficial if they started consuming guarana in addition to their regular cosmetic routine. The benefits are truly numerous.
Guarana may have anti-cancer properties
Cancer is basically a disease where a certain type of cells starts growing in an uncontrolled and abnormal manner. Test-tube and animal studies have found that guarana consumption may possess the ability to protect against DNA damage, suppress the growth of cancerous cells and even eliminate them altogether.(9,10,11)
A study done on mice found that those who were fed guarana had 60% fewer cancer cells and almost a five-times increase in cancer cell death, compared to the mice that weren’t fed guarana.
A different test-tube study found that guarana suppressed cancer cells growth in the colon, and also stimulated their extermination. Scientists believe that the main reason behind these potential anti-cancer properties of guarana is its high content of xanthines, compounds which are similar to theobromine and caffeine.
Having said all of that, even though these results may look promising, it is still not enough until more thorough human-based studies are made. In any case, it is possible that guarana consumption may lessen the symptoms and provide the body with vital compounds which will help it combat the spread of cancer.
Guarana has antibacterial properties
Guarana is filled with compounds which may inhibit or altogether eliminate dangerous bacteria. One of them is Escherichia coli, whose natural habitat is the intestines of animals and humans. The majority of these bacteria are harmless, however, some of them can cause diarrhea and various other illnesses.(12)
Research has also shown that guarana consumption can inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutans, a bacteria which can cause the formation of dental plaques and trigger tooth decay. It is believed that the caffeine and compounds such as tannins or catechins found in guarana are responsible for its antibacterial properties.
So, making sure your intestines remain healthy is another reason why you should drink guarana.
Guarana may protect against eye disorders related to aging
It is quite common for eyesight to deteriorate progressively as we age. Lots of factors are involved such as sunlight, bad diet, smoking, and other lifestyle choices. They can put a severe burden on your eyes over a span of decades and increase the risk of developing eye-related disorders.
Guarana is filled with compounds which combat oxidative stress, which is a big risk factor for age-related eye disorders such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. One study, in particular, found that subjects who consumed guarana on a regular basis reported that they had much better vision than those who consumed it irregularly or not at all.
In that same study, scientists did test-tube experiments to find out whether guarana could protect the eye cells against compound which cause oxidative stress. It was found that guarana significantly decreased the amount of DNA damage and cell death, compared to those who took a placebo.
Having said that, not too many studies have been made to firmly confirm the positive relationship between guarana consumption and age-related eye disorders. More human-based research needs to be made before any concrete recommendations can be made. It wouldn’t hurt however to try it out for yourself if you happen to be suffering from some of the aforementioned disorders.
It is relatively safe with very few side effects
Numerous studies have confirmed the safety of guarana consumption and the general lack of side effects. It only has minor levels of toxicity when consumed in low-to-moderate doses.
When taken in high doses, it may cause similar side effects to the ones of excessive caffeine consumption. Some of them include heart palpitations, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, seizures, shakiness, stomach problems, etc.
It should also be noted that when consumed in high doses caffeine can be quite addictive and lead to dependency very fast. Women in pregnancy should avoid or eliminate guarana consumption, as caffeine can cross the placenta. A high amount of caffeine may cause growth abnormalities in the embryo or increase the risk of miscarriage.
So, though no generally recommended dose can be given, the majority of human-based studies have found that doses as low as 50mg can provide all the health benefits related to guarana.