10 Surprising Facts about Caffeine

Caffeine Molecule

It's no surprise that most coffee drinkers love the extra boost we get from the caffeine in our morning cup. But caffeine is found in many more places, and has benefits that you might not have considered before. Here are 10 surprising facts about our favorite stimulant.


1. Decaf isn't necessarily the same as caffeine free

 

Most people think that switching to decaf coffee and tea means they are eliminating this popular stimulant from their diet completely, but it’s not exactly true. A Fall 2007 FDA Study examined 9 different types of coffee and found that all but one contained some measurable amount of caffeine.  However, you would have to drink up to 10 cups of decaf to get the same dosage found in one cup of regular brew (anywhere from 95 – 200 mg).

 

2. Caffeine effects kick in within minutes


A study from researchers at the University of Barcelona (UB) concluded that the effects of caffeine can be felt in as little as 10 minutes after consumption, whereas previous studies placed effects of alertness more in the range of 30-45 minutes.

 

3. Caffeine doesn't affect us all in the same way


In their book The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug, authors Bonnie Bealer and Bennet Alan Weinberg found that caffeine processes differently through the body based on gender, race, and is even affected by types of medication being used. Caffeine has a particularly greater effect on women, which is too bad for guys that love coffee. You’ll just sit and wait for it!

 

4. Many energy drinks have less caffeine than coffee


Although it might seem counterintuitive, many energy drinks contain markedly less amounts of caffeine compared to their coffee counterparts. While your typical cup of coffee contains up to 260 mg of caffeine, many energy drinks have as little as 80 mg. This is mainly because of the other “ingredients” used to provide the energy boost, colorful mystery ingredients like gum arabic, pyridoxine hydrochloride, Inositol and Cyanocobalamin. What? The energy drink market might be the fastest growing U.S. beverage market, but I’ll just stick with the black stuff, thanks.

 

5. Dark roast coffee contains less caffeine than light roast


They might have a stronger, more robust mouth taste, but darker coffee roasts actually contains less caffeine than you’ll find in lighter roasts. To put it simply, the process of roasting the green coffee beans burns off some of the caffeine. So reach for a darker roast the next time you need a cup with a little less kick.

 

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6. Caffeine can be found naturally in more than 60 plants

 

Caffeine is a naturally occurring component in the leaves, seeds, and fruits of 60 or more plants, including (but not limited to) coffee beans, tea leaves, kola nuts (active ingredient in flavoring soft drinks), and cacao pods. You might recognize the last plant, as it is the main ingredient used to make chocolate products. That’s right… chocolate has caffeine. I just fell more in love with chocolate.

 

7. Coffee can have different amounts of caffeine

 

Depending on the location where you buy your morning or afternoon cup of joe, the caffeine content can vary wildly. For instance, Starbucks packs a whopping 20.6 mg into their drinks while McDonalds uses a more conservative 9 mg for a drink of comparable size. See the varying caffeine content of the world’s most popular beverages right here.

 

8. The average American consumes about 200 mg of caffeine a day

 

Though not always getting their caffeine from coffee, the average caffeine-drinking American has roughly 2 five oz. cups of coffee a day, or 4 sodas. 80% of adults in the Unites States have some form of caffeine each day, amounting to a personal intake of 200 milligrams or more. But if you think that sounds like a lot…

 

9. Americans are not the top caffeine consuming country

 

According to an article from the BBC, this esteemed award goes to Finland, where the residents consume anywhere from 350 – 450 milligrams of caffeine EVERY DAY. 2nd place goes to Norway, followed by Iceland. Actually, the United States isn’t even in the top 10. We need to step up our game here, folks.

 

10. Caffeine helps your pain reliever work faster

 

Having some coffee along with your pain reliever with can cause up to 40 percent more effectiveness when compared to taking a pain reliever with water only, according to a report by the Cleveland Clinic. It helps your body absorb the medication more efficiently, and at a much faster rate. Who knew?


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