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Nutrition Spotlight: Caffeine and L-theanine in Tea

2 Jan

According to a Unilever study recently reported in a Food Navigator-USA article, there is evidence to support the notion that compounds in tea, primarily caffeine and L-theanine, can be beneficial for one’s mood and mental focus.

Despite the European Food Safety Authority’s recent rejections of two Unilever health claims petitions (13.1 and 13.5) which linked black tea consumption to improved mental focus, the company is continuing its extensive research on the many benefits of tea consumption. Suzanne Einother and Vanessa Martens, employed at Unilever Research and Development, Vlaardingen (the Netherlands), are responsible for a recent review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which, concerning a number of studies of tea consumption, notes “particularly consistent evidence for improved attention” throughout. They added that tea “consistently improved self-reported alertness and arousal” among subjects.

“These studies,” they said, “showed the validity of laboratory findings by supporting the idea that tea consumption has acute benefits on both mood and performance in real-life situations.”

The review was first formally presented on September 19th, 2012, at the Fifth International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health in Washington, D.C.

Scientific research of tea has long focused on green tea, the benefits of which are well-documented and include improving oral and cardiovascular health, aiding in weight-management and reducing the risks of Alzheimer’s disease and some forms of cancer.

Black tea is simply green tea which is oxidized by fermentation, and contains between 3% and 10% of water-extractable polyphenols; original green tea, by comparison, contains between 30% and 40%. Fresh tea leaves contain four primary extractable polyphenols: epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin and epigallocatechin gallate.

Unilever’s research, however, has focused more on L-theanine, an amino acid extracted from tea leaves, and caffeine. L-theanine is believed to help reduce stress while improving one’s quality of sleep. Since it is found in very low concentrations (less than 2%) in tea leaves, drinking tea cannot deliver effective dosage levels of 100 to 200 milligrams per day.

In the past, L-theanine has been linked to other various health effects, including improved attention, relaxation and certain “neuro-protective” effects. For example, it has been suggested that the amino acid is responsible for increased alpha activity during rest (as shown in EEG models), which can improve relaxation.

In the new review, Einother and Martens used data from randomized control trials focusing on tea’s effects on attention and mood.

“From the totality of research on tea summarized,” they wrote, “[…] it can be concluded that consumption of black tea may improve attention and self-reported alertness. These conclusions are further supported by studies on caffeine and on theanine and caffeine in combination.”

They are quite clear, however, about the pockets of uncertainty which remain for the time being: “Research on the benefits of tea is promising for attention and alertness, although questions remain regarding the scope and magnitude of impact as well as the sensitivity of different individuals. Whereas the bioavailability of both caffeine and theanine has been established, as well as the [suggested] mechanisms of action in the brain, they extent to which they actually cross the blood-brain barrier in humans and how much this is associated with [individual] changes in subsequent performance and mood measures are as yet unknown.”


Ingredient Spotlight: Benefits of Beetroot Juice

27 Dec

A Nutra-Ingredients article has recently reported the findings of a study of nitrate-rich beetroot juice; in a study using trained female runners, it was determined that drinking the juice for four days leading up to a running time-trial could greatly improve the runner’s performance.

As little as 140 milliliters per day of beetroot juice proved beneficial for systolic blood pressure and, in turn, a runner’s 5-kilometer performance, as determined by scientists at Sheffield Hallam University.

“Although not statistically significant,” they wrote, “these results suggest beetroot juice supplementation improved 5-km time trial performance over PLA by 31 s (2.4%). Athletes should consider ingesting beetroot juice to improve 5-km running performance.”

The study of beetroot juice and its potential nutritional and cardiovascular benefits has gained momentum in recent years, especially in the United Kingdom. In past studies, scientists from the University of Exeter (U.K.) found that beetroot juice could help individuals increase stamina and exercise for as much as 16% longer; scientists at the University of Maastricht have noted similar improvements in performance among cyclists. Publications in the Journal of Applied Psychology have suggested that the juice’s nitrate content, which helps reduce oxygen uptake, may be responsible for easing [quite effectively] the “tiring effect” of exercising.

That particular study was led by Professor Andy Jones, who offered a brief summary: “Our study is the first to show that nitrate-rich food can increase exercise endurance. We were amazed by the effects of beetroot juice on oxygen uptake because these effects cannot be achieved by any other known means, including training.”

In the new study, led by Robyn Lancely and her co-workers, a double-blind “crossover design” with repeated measures a two-week washout period was used to determine whether supplementation of beetroot juice would affect 5-km running time-trial performance.

Eleven trained female runners with an average age of 20 were assigned to receive 140 mL of the juice per day, as compared to no supplementation and a placebo. While there were no major differences in systolic blood pressure among the groups, the researchers identified a trend toward reductions following consumption of the juice; those who consumed it had an average value of 114 mmHg, compared to 122 mmHg for the control intervention and 120 mmHg for the placebo intervention.

“One km split times were similar between conditions except for the 2nd km where beetroot juice was faster than control by 16 seconds and placebo by 12 seconds.”

Power Brands Reviews: Recycling in the Beverage Industry

24 Dec

A recent survey led by Research Data + Insights and reported in an Environmental Leader article has shed light on the role consumers expect companies to play in recycling.

Of over 1,000 American adults surveyed, an overwhelming 86% said they expect food and beverage brands to work continuously on improving the recyclability of their packages. Many also indicated that they consult the products they purchase for environmental information before consulting other resources. About 76% of adults said they determine a package’s recyclability by looking at the package itself; the second most popular way is to consult the company’s website (33%), followed by 26% who consult the consumer’s city website.

Also, 45% of the adults claimed that their loyalty to a food/beverage company is affected by that company’s involvement in environmental causes, strengthening the common belief that environmental effort can improve consumer loyalty.

According to Jason Pelz, VP of Environment at Tetra Pak North America and VP of Recycling Projects at the Carton Council of North America, the survey should certainly encourage food/beverage brands to use the “recycling logo” on cartons; it not only proclaims the cartons are recyclable, but also provides the Recycle Cartons website ( where consumers can learn what cartons are accepted in their local recycling programs.

The Carton Council of North America, according to Pelz, actively encourages brands to use their packaging to “spread the word,” as well as expand their advertising to social media outlets – which provide endless marketing opportunities – and other websites.

The recycling of aluminum beverage containers at the industry level has been on an upward trend in the U.S. for decades, with a strong rate of 67% reported just last year. This is according to data published by the Aluminum Association, the Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI).

The 67% rate reported in 2012 is, according to the three groups, the highest overall recycling rate since the early 1990s, and the second-highest since 1972 when the survey began. The groups say this rate marks tremendous progress towards their goal of a 75% recycling rate by 2015.

Official 2014 Winter Olympics Protein Drink Named

20 Dec

The Chicago Business Journal has reported that “Core Power” will be named the official protein drink of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which are set to be held in Sochi.

Core Power is a milk-based sports recovery/protein drink which launched nationwide in July of this year. It is produced by Fairlife LLC, a startup founded in 2012 and based in Chicago.

The honor includes a line of limited-edition Core Power bottles featuring four potential 2014 Team USA athletes, who will also promote the beverage across social media platforms. The bottles will hit the shelves in January 2014.

The selected American-born athletes to appear on the bottles are aerial skier Emily Cook, bobsledder Jazmine Fenlator and slope-style snowboarders Eric Willett and Jordie Karlinski. Steve Jones, Chief Executive of Fairlife, recently expressed his gratitude for the coming worldwide exposure in a public statement: “Our team has given it their all to develop a superior sports recovery drink and get it into the hands of athletes and active individuals across the country. This Sochi 2014 opportunity is humbling and motivating to us all.”

Core Power’s communications director Anders Porter added, “Just four years ago, it was only a handful of us, introducing people to Core Power out of a small office apartment in Austin, Texas. We’re very excited to bring our startup to the Sochi 2014 stage.

The milk from which Core Power is based comes from “Select Milk Producers,” a network of over ninety dairy farms which are all family-owned. Mike and Sue McCloskey, the founders of Fairlife, said they started the company with a goal of “revolutionizing the dairy industry and further invigorating the growing health and wellness category.” They also claim to have a number of new products [in addition to Core Power] which are set to be marketed and sold nationwide.

Power Brands Review: Coffee Consumption Trends

27 Sep

The National Coffee Association has recently published its 2013 “National Coffee Drinking Trends” report, which found that single-cup growth and coffee consumption have both increased in the past year. The study also found that consumption habits were stronger among Hispanic Americans than in other groups.

The NCA has conducted the study annually since 1950. This year’s study used a sample of 2,840 nationally-representative adults who filled out an online survey.

Of the U.S. adults who were polled, an incredible 83% said that they drank coffee in the past day, a 5% increase from last year. Daily consumption has been steady at around 63%, while consumption at least once a week increased slightly to 75%.

Power Brands has also noted single-cup growth in the last two years. Of American adults polled, 12% now own a single-cup brewer, an increase from 10% in 2012 and 7% in 2011. Awareness of single-cup brewers also increased to 82%, from 71% in 2012.

The high-consumption trend among Hispanic Americans was first identified last year by the NCA when it improved its ethnic sampling to represent minority groups more accurately. Of all adult Hispanic Americans polled this year, 76% said they drank coffee yesterday, compared to 64% of Caucasian Americans and 47% of African Americans.

According to Power Brands, the 2013 statistics are more “on par” with statistics from earlier years, which may suggest that the declining rates indicate volatility rather than softening in these particular segments.

The new research also found that 31% of those polled drank a “gourmet” coffee beverage. Traditional coffee consumption was 49%, a 7% decrease from the 2012 rate of 56%.

Past-day consumption in the category of espresso-based beverages was 24% among Hispanic Americans, 12% for African Americans and 10% among Caucasian Americans. In the age group of 18-24, overall daily consumption of coffee is at 41%, a decrease from 50% last year, and for those 25-39, consumption is at 59%, a slight decrease from 63%. Daily consumption among those 60 or older is on the rise, according to Power Brands, particularly in gourmet varieties. Daily consumption in that cohort is at 24%, a 5% increase from last year.

“NCA research finds that American coffee consumption continues to trend upward as consumers respond to variety and convenience,” said NCA’s president and chief executive, Robert F. Nelson. “Building on existing market enthusiasm, changing U.S. demographics and single-cup brewing may be adding momentum to already-enthusiastic consumer engagement.”

Drinking Tea or Coffee May Be Better than not Drinking Anything at All

27 Aug

New Findings on Coffee and Tea— Power Brands, a leading beverage industry expert reports that the tea and coffee market is on the rise. This may be due to new discoveries in the health benefits of both beverages, states Power Brands.

Conferring to a recent article on Mail Online through Associated Newspapers Ltd. Drinking 4 cups of tea or coffee a day is BETTER than not drinking any at all, the succeeding information may confirm that tea and coffee really is better than drinking nothing.

According to current research, drinking 4 cups of tea or coffee a day may be healthier than not drinking anything at all. Some of the health findings include the following:

  • Those who drink a lot of coffee and tea have lower blood pressure
  • People who drink more than four cups a day have lower heart rates
  • People who do not drink tea or coffee have higher blood pressure levels
  • Flavonoids found in tea might help relax blood vessels and reduce blood pressure

Other studies have found that people who drink the most coffee and tea have the lowest blood pressure readings. In fact, people who drink coffee and tea have lower blood pressure levels than those who have never consumed these beverages.

However, the NHS states that drinking more than four cups of coffee a day may increase blood pressure. Additionally, people who love coffee, tea and other caffeine-rich drinks should consider cutting back on their consumption.

Power Brands states that the tea and coffee market continues to rise because of these findings. Many people who enjoy their cup of Joe or morning tea are now quite excited about the findings. Some studies even suggest that drinking four cups of coffee or tea a day may be better than not drinking anything. The research suggests that caffeine can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to fall.

Yet research from the Preventive and Clinical Investigations Centre in Paris recommends that people with high blood pressure should reduce their caffeine intake, says Power Brands.

Studies show that around one in four middle aged adults have high blood pressure. Further, around half of those people are over age 65.  In addition, high blood pressure can increase the risk of stroke, heart disease and other severe health conditions.

New Studies

Current studies included observing the blood pressure of men and women between ages 16 and 95 during a ten year period. Subjects were asked to record their tea and coffee consumption. Among the subjects there were three groups that were divided as follows:

  • Abstained
  • Drank one to four cups per day
  • Drank more than four cups per day

The results of the studies concluded that:

  • Heavy tea drinkers had the lowest heart rate and pulse pressure
  • Heavy tea drinkers benefited the most; lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure readings
  • Heavy coffee drinkers had slightly higher blood pressure readings
  • Those who abstained from coffee and tea had the highest heart rate, blood pressure and pulse pressure readings
  • The difference between the groups was slight but scientifically significant

Power Brands states that Physicians and Medics have been disagreeing over the relationships between tea, coffee and blood pressure for numerous years. Whereas some research suggests that moderate intake of caffeinated drinks can reduce blood pressure, others studies have been indecisive. As well, there are numerous specialists that feel drinking too much caffeine may cause hypertension and other conditions.

Recent guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence say that general practitioners should ‘discourage excessive consumption of coffee and other caffeine-rich products’.

While the new study does not verify that tea and coffee can reduce blood pressure, it suggests that people with hypertension may not be need to tell reduce their consumption of caffeinated beverages. In effect, Dr. Bruno Pannier presented his findings to the European Society of Hypertension in Milan. Dr. Pannier stated that the flavonoids in tea could possibly help relax blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure.  Dr. Pannier added that vasorelaxing compounds found in these beverages may be responsible for reducing blood pressure. Nonetheless, Dr. Pannier disclosed that the study made no distinction between green tea, black tea and herbal tea.

Nonetheless, even though studies for and against the correlation between caffeine beverages and the reduction of blood pressure, it appears to have increased the caffeinated beverage market, states Power Brands.

For more information on the Mail Online article go to Drinking 4 cups of tea or coffee a day is BETTER than not drinking any at all.

Power Brands Reviews Water and Weight Loss

15 Aug

According to the beverage consultants at Power Brands, a group of past studies have collectively shown that dieters who drink more water tend to have more significant weight loss.

For instance, in one study dieters were asked to drink water before a meal. “The water enhanced the weight loss,” according to Brenda Davey, a Virginia Tech professor who was part of the studies.

However, researchers insist there is still not enough evidence to say with certainty that drinking more water will help a person lose weight.

The new review of the studies was led by Rebecca Muckelbauer, a researcher from the Berlin School of Public Health and the Charité University Medical Center Berlin. Since she is a nutrition researcher, she is often asked about whether drinking water will contribute to weight loss, and so she decided, along with her colleagues, to analyze a total of eleven studies on weight and water consumption.

According to Power Brands Consulting, three of the studies positively linked greater weight loss to increased water-intake among the dieters.

One of the studies conducted by Davy’s group found that middle-aged adults who drank two cups of water before a meal lost, on average, four pounds more than those who did not consume extra water. Another study found that women who drank less than one liter of water a day lost less weight than women who drank more.

“Drinking water itself increases energy expenditure of your body,” Muckelbauer told Reuters Health. “It has an energy-consuming effect. This is not well studied.”

The adult recommendations from the Institute of Medicine are 125 ounces for men and 91 ounces for women daily, which is between 2.7 and 3.7 liters.

Not all of the studies showed a positive correlation, however. “We don’t have conclusive evidence that increasing water intake reduces weight,” said Davy, “but there are certainly other benefits to increasing our intake.” Power Brands notes that Americans drink about 400 to 500 calories per day from beverages other than water, so replacing those beverages with water is always a healthy option.

“There’s not a lot of risk for recommending [increased water intake] for individuals,” Davy said.