The growing search for quality of life and longevity influences consumer behavior and focuses on products and services related to health and well-being. Following this worldwide trend, in the search for benefits that go beyond the basic nutritional functions, the food industry increasingly uses natural ingredients with proven physiological effects for the development of functional foods and beverages.
In the literature, numerous studies prove the key role of healthy eating in the prevention and treatment of diseases. The consumption of natural products, sources of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, fibers, and bioactive secondary metabolites, such as polyphenols, alkaloids, among other are strongly correlated with health benefits.
Guarana (Paulinia cupana) is a native plant from Amazon region, which was discovered and used by indigenous peoples before the conquest of America. Due to its stimulating, tonic and aphrodisiac action, the Maués Indians considered the species sacred and as valuable as gold. With a slightly bitter, astringent and acidic flavor, the guarana powder, dissolved in water, was considered by popular indigenous wisdom to be the elixir to obtain a long life.
The first report of the use of guarana as a drink occurred in 1669, during a Jesuit expedition to the Amazon. Since then, due to its physiological actions, it has been marketed as a medicinal plant with fortifying, stimulating, tonic, antidote for fever and for the treatment of diarrhea. Currently, it is present in several pharmacopoeias, such as those in Brazil, USA, Mexico and some European countries.
Guarana seeds are the most commercially attractive part of the plant, because its contain of the active substances responsible for the stimulating action. Syrups, extracts and distillates are obtained from the seeds.
Among the best known bioactive compounds present in guarana seeds are the methylxanthines, and mainly caffeine, which is associated with increased cognitive function and energy expenditure. In smaller quantity, the authenticity markers theobromine and theophylline are present (< 0.2%) The content of caffeine in the seeds of guarana (from 2% to 7,5%) is significantly higher than present in coffee – approximately four times more. When compared to other stimulant beverages, such as cocoa and green tea, it has a caffeine content 30 times higher.
In addition to methylxanthines, literature data shows that guarana seeds are also sources of polyphenols, starch (60%), pectin, among others. Its health benefits are not only attributed to caffeine, but are also related to its high antioxidant potential, mainly due to the presence of tannins (12%), components that ensure the astringent characteristic of the product. The tannins constitute a group of phenolic compounds capable of forming complexes with several other molecules. In Guarana, the formation of these complexes with caffeine results in a stimulating effect up to twice as long as in an equivalent drink, such as tea or coffee.
The catechins, condensed tannins present in Guarana seeds , also act as antioxidants, protecting the organism against the effects of free radicals, helping in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and accelerated aging.
How Guarana works in our organism.
Brazil is the largest world’s producer of Guarana, with 96% of the plantations concentrated in the states of Amazonas and Bahia. Due to its bioactive compounds, Guarana has attracted considerable interest as an ingredient for the development of functional foods, food supplements, medicines and cosmetics.
The highest economic value is related to the production of beverages. In food, Guarana seeds extract is the base aroma used in one of the most popular carbonated beverages in Brazil. In addition, it is widely used by the energy drinks industry. It can also be used in food supplements, snacks, cereal bars, chewing gum and candies.
The application of combined processes to increase the profile of methylxanthins and polyphenols and subsequent valorization of Guarana residues has resulted in numerous studies to maximize the content of bioactive constituents and, consequently, health benefits.
In connection with the growing movements of consumers in search of naturalness, health and well-being in food, Duas Rodas, which was born amidst the diversity of the world’s largest biome and is a pioneer in the manufacture of essential oils from tropical plants in Brazil, offers a broad portfolio of aromas, dehydrated and natural extracts in powder and liquid forms.
A Brazilian leader in the supply of flavors and ingredients for the food and beverage industries, the company has Fruittion Botanicals on its platform of natural ingredients, an exclusive line inspired by the diversity of Latin American botany, which contains in its portfolio standardized extracts in different active compounds, to serve different audiences and applications. Among them, are present standardized guarana extracts on several caffeine concentrations.
As the greatest worldwide producer independent of Guarana natural extract, Duas Rodas is recognized by seals and certificates that attest the care and concern with food security and environmental preservation, such as FSSC 22000, Organic, Kosher and Halal.
Karina Luize da Silva, Duas Rodas Specialist in Research and Development of Extracts and Dehydrated Products
Tailyn Zermiani dos Santos, Duas Rodas Research and Development Analyst of Extracts and Dehydrated Products
SCHIMPL, F. C.; SILVA, J. F.; GONÇALVES, J. F. C.; MAZZAFERA, P. Guarana: Revisiting a highly caffeinated plant from the Amazon. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, v.150, n. 28, p. 14-31, 2013.
MARQUES, L. L. M.; FERREIRA, E. D. F.; PAULA, M. N.; KLEIN, T.; MELLO, J. C. P. Paullinia cupana: a multi purpose plant – a review. Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia, v. 29, p. 77–110, 2019.
SILVA, C. P.; SOARES-FREITASA, R. A. M.; SAMPAIO, R. R.; CAMARGO, A. C.; TORRES, E. A. F. S. Guarana as a source of bioactive compounds. Journal of Food Bioactives, v. 6, p. 1-5, 2019.