What is Guarana?
Guarana, also known as Paullinia cupana, is a climbing plant native to the Amazon basin in Brazil, prized for its fruit. The mature fruit is similar in size to a coffee berry and resembles the human eye, with a red shell encasing a black seed covered by a white aril. Guarana extract is made by processing the seeds into a powder.
Amazonian tribes have used guarana for centuries for its therapeutic properties due to its impressive range of stimulants, including caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine, as well as antioxidants such as tannins, saponins, and catechins. Nowadays, the beverage industry utilizes 70% of guarana produced for soft and energy drinks, and the remaining 30% is converted into powder. Here are 12 scientifically-supported benefits of guarana.
Rich in Antioxidants
Guarana contains several antioxidant compounds, such as caffeine, theobromine, tannins, saponins, and catechins (3, 4Trusted Source, 5), which provide similar antioxidant benefits to green tea (6Trusted Source). Antioxidants are crucial as they can counteract potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals that can harm cells and lead to age-related illnesses, heart disease, cancer, and other health conditions. Research conducted in test tubes suggests that the antioxidant properties of guarana may help to reduce the risk of heart disease, combat cancer cell growth, and slow down skin aging.
Can Reduce Fatigue asnd Improve Focus
Guarana is commonly found in energy drinks and is a rich source of caffeine, which helps with maintaining mental focus and energy levels.
Guarana seeds contain four to six times more caffeine than coffee beans, and caffeine works by blocking the relaxing effects of adenosine, a compound that affects the brain. By binding to adenosine receptors, caffeine prevents them from being activated.
A study indicated that individuals who took a vitamin supplement containing guarana experienced less fatigue while performing multiple tests compared to those who took a placebo. Interestingly, studies have also suggested that guarana can help reduce mental fatigue associated with cancer treatment with few side effects.
May Help You Learn Better
According to research, guarana may enhance your memory and learning abilities.
A study conducted on the impact of various doses of guarana on learning and mood showed that those who received 37.5 mg or 75 mg of guarana achieved the highest test scores. As low doses of guarana provide low levels of caffeine, it is believed that other compounds in guarana may also contribute to its effects (16Trusted Source).
In another study, guarana was compared to ginseng, another substance known to boost brain function. While both guarana and ginseng improved memory and test performance, those who received guarana paid more attention to their tasks and completed them faster.
Animal studies have also shown that guarana can improve memory.
May Promote Weight Loss
According to a reliable source, approximately one in three American adults is considered obese. This is concerning because obesity has been associated with various chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Interestingly, guarana may have properties that could aid in weight loss. For one, it contains a high amount of caffeine which has been found to boost metabolism by 3-11% over 12 hours, resulting in burning more calories while at rest.
Additionally, studies have demonstrated that guarana has the ability to inhibit genes that promote fat cell production while stimulating genes that slow it down. Nevertheless, further research is required to determine the effectiveness of guarana on fat cell production in humans.
May Boost Heart Health
Heart disease accounts for 25% of all deaths in the US. Guarana may have two potential benefits for reducing the risk of heart disease. Firstly, the antioxidants in guarana may improve blood flow and prevent blood clots (28Trusted Source). Secondly, studies suggest that guarana may decrease the oxidation of “bad” LDL cholesterol, which can lead to plaque build-up in arteries.
Adults who consume guarana may have up to 27% less oxidized LDL cholesterol than those who do not consume it. However, most of the research regarding the connection between guarana and heart health comes from test-tube studies, and further human-based studies are necessary before any recommendations can be made.
May Provide Pain Relief
In the past, guarana was utilized by Amazonian tribes as a natural pain reliever. The pain-relieving effect of guarana is linked to its high concentration of caffeine. Caffeine has a crucial role in pain management, as it binds and blocks adenosine receptors, specifically A1 and A2a.
These receptors stimulate the sensation of pain. By binding to these receptors, caffeine can decrease the perception of pain. This is why caffeine is often included in many over-the-counter pain relief medications, as studies have demonstrated it can increase their effectiveness.