Foods Adding "Energizing" Ingredients

by in Food News, January 13, 2009

Every so often you may go looking for a boost. Sometimes you turn to a cup of coffee or a brisk walk, but you may be tempted to reach for an extra stimulant.

The market is laden with energy drinks such as Venom, Cocaine and WhoopAss. These beverages contain high amounts of caffeine, amino acids and dangerous amounts of legal (yet non FDA-regulated) stimulants such as guarana and ginseng. Although these supplements claim to be “energy enhancers,” there is limited evidence that energy drinks increase mental and physical performance.

Guarana, also known as Brazilian cocoa, is a plant common to Brazil. It naturally contains three to five times more caffeine than any other plant. Though considered safe for most adults, the high amount of caffeine in the plant may cause insomnia, irritability, stomach irritation, increased heart rate and blood pressure and tremors. Ginseng is an herb which seems to lower blood sugar. Safety of long-term use is questionable and carries the same side effects as guarana.

There is even the 5 Hour Energy® drink that claims to keep you awake without calories and sugar. With a blend of B-vitamins, numerous amino acids, caffeine and other ingredients, who knows what the combination of these ingredients can do to your body? To make matters worse, the safety of them is highly questionable.

If you think the world of energizing ingredients couldn’t go any further, think again. Companies are now adding stimulants to foods. Between January 1 and May 5 of last year, 70 new foods hit U.S. markets that were supposed to increase “energy.” Caffeine is now added to energy bars, chips, sunflower seeds and even instant oatmeal. You can also suck on some energy mints containing ginseng, caffeine and B-vitamins.

Bottom Line: Steer clear of these hyped-up concoctions and save your money. Look for the most natural sources of energy — fresh fruits and vegetables, regular sleep and exercise.

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