Tag Archives: Caffeine

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.”



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.

Caffeine, Not Just for Beverages

29 Jul

The beverage consultants at Power Brands are reviewing a growing trend among energy-boosting foods. The opportunity to provide an energy boost to consumers is no longer confined to the beverage industry; food manufacturers have integrated caffeine into many different types of foods, including beef jerky, potato chips, and even marshmallows and gummy bears. Two specific examples cited by Power Brands Consulting are Wired Wyatt’s new caffeinated maple syrup and Cracker Jack’s “Power Bites,” the servings of which have about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee.

Experts say the trend has been fueled by the efforts of food manufacturers to “cash in” on consumers’ frenetic lifestyles and create innovations that match the profitability of caffeinated energy drinks. Recently, however, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stepped in to analyze the situation, and has asked companies to “take a time-out” from their energy-food endeavors.

According to market research from Euromonitor International, energy-boosting foods brought in over $1.6 billion in American retail sales in 2012. This is a nearly 50% increase from five years ago.

Roger Sullivan, the founder of Wired Waffles, was asked about the trend: “This is something that’s going to continue to grow,” he said. “It’s definitely a market where I think a lot of large companies are figuring out how to jump in.”

Sullivan and his wife began developing Wired Waffles after they closed their coffee distribution business following the economic crisis of 2008. Although he supports implementing more detailed labels for caffeine content in food and beverages, he is confident that business will continue as usual while the FDA sorts out its plans and goals for supervising the trend. When asked if business would stop, he said, “That’s not going to happen. If we waited on the government to figure things out, we’d be out of business.”

The FDA is particularly concerned with possible health effects on children, as well as the overall cumulative intake of caffeine by American consumers. Michael Taylor, the top food safety official of the FDA, spoke out about the trend:

“It’s a trend that raises real concerns. We’re not here to say that these products are inherently unsafe,” he said. “We’re trying to understand, what are the right questions to be asking? … We have to figure out, what are the right ways to approach this?”

He added, “When you start putting [caffeine] in these different products and forms, do we really understand the effects? Isn’t it time to pause and exercise some restraint?”

According to Power Brands Consulting, other researchers are less concerned about the rise of caffeinated foods. Abraham Palmer, a researcher at the University of Chicago, views these foods simply as alternative delivery systems for caffeine.

“Caffeine is a well-understood drug; billions of people around the world use it,” he said. “It’s hard for me to understand why these newer formulations are causing such alarm. …I fear that this may be much ado about nothing.”

Roland Griffiths, a professor of behavioral biology at John Hopkins University, has also studied the effects of caffeine extensively, and has taken note of a possible cultural shift in how caffeine is consumed. He said that while “coffee used to be the primary delivery system,” there is now “a whole new generation of people coming up who are not exclusive coffee drinkers.” This may prompt the business surrounding caffeine to begin moving in a new direction, if and when the FDA decides that certain regulations are necessary.

Power Brands Reviews Caffeine

24 May

Power Brands Consulting reviews the recent activity surrounding energy drinks and the potential dangers they could pose. Manufacturers of the highly-caffeinated beverages claim that there is no more caffeine in an energy drink than in the popular brands of gourmet coffees. However, several of the highest-ranking health professionals in the US state that the caffeine in an energy drink is much different than that in a Starbuck’s coffee…in “three important ways.” They maintain that the FDA should apply GRAS standards to the energy beverages with added caffeine. In the letter from these health professionals, the point is made that while coffee is sipped slowly by the consumer, people tend to “chug” energy drinks, or drink them much faster, thus receiving a much higher level of caffeine in a much shorter time period. Power Brand’s beverage consultant Darin Ezra wonders if this could make the energy drinks more dangerous if consumers are not warned.


A spokeswoman for the American Beverage Association disagrees, “Most energy drinks contain about half the caffeine of a similarly-sized cup of coffeehouse coffee and the body of evidence does not suggest that energy drinks cause adverse health outcomes.”

However, a letter from the doctors to the commissioner of the FDA, Margaret Hamburg referred to the beverages as “highly caffeinated energy drinks,” and commented on many concerns to the safety of them, including scientific, political, and consumer issues. The group of eighteen who signed the letter stated, “As researchers, scientists, clinicians, and public health professionals who have studied and conducted research on energy drinks, we are writing this letter to summarize the scientific evidence on this issue and encourage action.” Among these professionals is Amelia Arria from the University of Maryland Public School Health, Mary Claire O’Brien of Wake Forest School of Medicine, and Roland Griffiths of John Hopkins University School of Medicine. They studied the levels of caffeine in the beverages, and their links to death, visits to emergency rooms, heart issues, seizures, childhood obesity, and other issues. In the studies, which the professionals conducted themselves, the effects of mixing energy drinks with alcohol were also noted. It is a study which Power Brands is taking a keen interest in.