What’s 10 times more powerful than green tea?

If you’re a health nut who likes your daily caffeine fix, you’re probably a fan of green tea. It has just enough caffeine to keep you zipping and more than enough antioxidants to keep you healthy.

But it seems green tea has a rival as the king of healthy caffeinated beverages…

The challenger comes from South America — deep in the Amazonian rainforest. It’s a seed used to make refreshing fizzy beverages that are extremely popular in Brazil. And it’s even in some energy drinks here in America.

It’s guarana. And it’s a powerful stimulant… but that’s not the only trick it has up its sleeve. It’s also among the most antioxidant-packed plants around, the likes of which include heavy hitters like green tea and dark chocolate.

It also puts it on a list of plants you need to try now if you want to protect your body from free radicals, reduce inflammation and boost your odds against disease.

That’s because it contains catechins… and a lot of them. Catechins are the same antioxidants found in green tea that are reported to reduce the risk of viral infections, including hepatitis, and cancer — except guarana contains 10 times more!

In fact, its guarana’s outstanding catechin-content that inspired researchers from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil to finally take a serious look into its health benefits. And here’s what they found…

People who were generally healthy but slightly overweight experienced amazing health benefits after having a daily guarana drink for just 15 days.

All they had to do was drink 3 grams of guarana powder in 300 mL of water each morning, and let the guarana do what it does best… fight inflammation and oxidative stress.

Researchers measured various markers of inflammation and oxidative stress at the beginning of the study and at the end of the study. By the end of the study, participants had…

  • Less damage to their DNA
  • More powerful antioxidant enzymes in their cells (like glutathione peroxidase—the ‘mother’ of all antioxidants, satalase and superoxide dismutase). These enzymes protect cells from oxidative damage.
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) that’s more resistant to oxidation (which is important because oxidated LDL puts you at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease)

Researchers also found another exciting tidbit about guarana. Its catechins are highly bioavailable… which means they’re easy for your body to absorb and use. They may even be more bioavailable than the catechins found in green tea, cocoa and chocolate.

But before you get too gung-ho about guarana, remember, guarana contains two times the caffeine as coffee. So if you’re sensitive to caffeine, you may want to start slow. And it’s best not to look to energy drinks as a healthy source because of added stimulants and sugars.

You can purchase guarana powder online or from a health food store and add as little as you want to a glass of water to get started. Fortunately, when a plant has this much antioxidant power, a very little can go a long way—and that’s probably best.

Easy Health Options Tip: Don’t drink green tea or guarana with an iron-rich meal. That’s because — like kryptonite drains Superman — iron renders catechins (EGCG) ineffective.

Source: Lina Yonekura et al. “Bioavailability of catechins from guaraná (Paullinia cupana) and its effect on antioxidant enzymes and other oxidative stress markers in healthy human subjects.” Food Funct. (2016).
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.