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guarana

 

Synonyms: soapberry, soapnut; botanical name: Paullinia cupana


Guarana

 

The guarana bush is native to the Amazon region, specifically Brazil and Venezuela.


Appearance, taste, characteristics


Guarana is a type of liana that belongs to the soapberry plants. It forms five-lobed green leaves and white, cup-shaped blossoms. It is mainly the orange-red to red capsular fruits or the seeds they contain which are used. Each fruit contains one to three greenish or black seeds.

Owing to their components – among them the substance caffeine – they have stimulating effects similar to those of coffee. The caffeine of the guarana seeds is presumably bound to tannins, which is why it is released into the body over a long period of time. Thus the effect of the caffeine from guarana lasts longer than the effect of caffeine from coffee.


Ingredients


The seed contains caffeine (3.6%), guaranatine (4.5%) and theobromine (<1%). All three substances have a stimulating effect. In addition the seeds contain approximately 12% tannins and approximately 25% other polyphenols.

As guarana is added to a food in only minimal amounts, the mineral substances it contains contribute only negligibly to meeting the daily requirement.


Harmful substances


Guarana contains the purines theobromine and caffeine. The effect of caffeine is generally well-known. It reduces tiredness, enhances mental productivity and acts as a diuretic. In addition, in large doses it can lead to sleeplessness, nervousness and tachycardia. Theobromine acts as a vasodilator and stimulates the heart muscle. These and other effects have been proven in experiments, but using only the pure substance. Whether negative effects occur when it is bound to a complex food is questionable. It should be noted that theobromine occurs in rather small amounts, while caffeine is present in greater amounts than in coffee.

Pregnant or nursing women and persons with high blood pressure should avoid guarana products.


Presumed effect on health


Guarana is said to have a slight antipyretic (fever-reducing) effect and to strengthen a weak body. In addition, it suppresses the feelings of hunger and thirst. Athletes are therefore advised to be careful when using energy drinks that contain guarana: Because of the reduced intake of fluids there is a danger of dehydration.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation


The seeds of the plant are skinned, dried and ground to a powder. From this powder a paste is produced which is pressed into sticks and sold as such. The paste is used, among other things, in the soft-drink industry.

An infusion drink that is a favourite of the Amazon Indians and is also made with the guarana paste is becoming increasingly popular in Western Europe. The paste is dissolved in water and the drink is sweetened with honey. It is known to bodybuilders in particular as a fitness drink that stimulates like coffee and also reduces the appetite. A cup of this infusion drink contains about 180 mg of caffeine, double that in a cup of coffee.

Guarana is also used in the production of chewing gum and chocolate. Today even some mixed beers are enriched with guarana.

 

 

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