Caffeine is a bitter substance that stimulates the central nervous system.
It is known for being one of the main compounds in coffee, but we can also find it in other drinks and foods. Here we tell you which ones and their effects on the body.
It’s no surprise that the drink from which the name comes contains caffeine. Coffee is a beverage obtained from the roasted and ground beans of the fruits of coffee trees (Coffee) or coffee plants.
It is highly stimulating due to its concentration of caffeine. It is estimated that in a cup of coffee (8 ounces or 237 ml) there is 96 mg of caffeine, a concentration that is reduced to 64 mg if the coffee is espresso, and to 62 mg if it is instant.
It may sound counterintuitive, but decaf coffee also has caffeine. Because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t have strict regulations on the decaffeination process, it’s hard to know exactly how much you’re getting in each cup.
Bean quality and processing methods can also affect caffeine levels.
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Generally, the decaffeination process removes 97% of the caffeine, so it is estimated that in a cup we can find 2 mg of caffeine.
Tea is a beverage obtained from the leaves of the plant. camellia sinensis. These leaves are used to produce different varieties of tea, including green, oolong, white or black.
The latter stands out from the others because it undergoes a complete oxidation process, which guarantees a unique color and flavor, but also a higher amount of caffeine than its peers.
For example, a cup of green tea has 2 mg of caffeine, while the same amount of black tea has 47 mg of caffeine. A cup of bottled tea has about 20 mg of caffeine.
Chocolate is a food that is obtained by mixing sugar with mass and cocoa butter, products derived from the seeds of the cocoa tree or cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao L.).
Cocoa beans are a natural source of caffeine, so the higher the purity of the chocolate, the more caffeine it will have. The ingredients that are added to the basic mixture, such as dyes, fruits, nuts or milk, among others, also have an influence.
Energy drinks and soft drinks
Energy drinks or energy drinks are non-alcoholic beverages that have stimulating substances, such as caffeine. They are usually consumed to combat exhaustion and fatigue, in addition to stimulating mental activity.
It is estimated that for every 8 ounces (237 ml) these drinks provide 29 mg of caffeine, although that amount usually depends on the brand.
Other drinks that contain caffeine are soft drinks or colas, approximately 22 mg of caffeine per 8 ounces (237 ml). This is because one of its ingredients is the cola nut (tail acuminate), a plant that has a high content of caffeine (up to 5%).
The oats (Avena sativa) is a whole grain food and one of the best known, consumed and healthy cereals. This is because it is rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.
It is also the cereal with the highest proportion of vegetable fat, it has 65% unsaturated fats, 35% linoleic acid, easily absorbed carbohydrates, and is low in calories.
To eat it, boil water in a pot and add the desired amount of oatmeal, until it dissolves. However, there is instant oatmeal, ready to eat after adding hot water.
This option is fortified and has caffeine, since it is usually part of breakfasts and is intended to guarantee the energy and nutrients necessary to start the day.
Caffeine is not believed to cause serious health problems when consumed in moderation. Professionals consider 200 to 300 mg per day (two to three cups of coffee) to be a moderate amount of caffeine for an adult.
However, too much caffeine can affect metabolism in many ways:
- It stimulates the central nervous system, providing energy impulses, increasing alertness and causing sleep disturbances.
- Increases blood pressure levels.
- Increases the release of stomach acid, increasing the risk of heartburn.
- Interferes with the absorption of calcium by the body.
- Causes headaches, restlessness, tremors, abnormal heart rhythms, and dehydration
Caffeine reaches its maximum level in the blood after one hour of being consumed. While the aforementioned effects can occur for four to six hours after ingestion.
Some people are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than others, and may even develop dependence. The following groups are advised to avoid or limit caffeine intake:
- Pregnant or lactating women.
- People with insomnia or other sleep problems.
- People with chronic migraines.
- People with cardiovascular problems
- People with stomach problems.
- People suffering from anxiety.
- Difficult to focus.
It is also not recommended for use by those taking heart or asthma medications or supplements. Synthetic caffeine is commonly found in cold medicines or pain relievers.
Limiting or eliminating caffeine intake can lead to withdrawal, which is characterized by:
These symptoms may go away after a couple of days, but if they persist, you should see a health professional.
Sources consulted: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, US National Library of Medicine, US Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.