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From Antioxidants To Energy, Guarana Delivers Benefits For Body & Mind*

Kirsten Nunez, M.S.
Author: Expert reviewer:
May 16, 2022
Kirsten Nunez, M.S.
Contributing writer
By Kirsten Nunez, M.S.
Contributing writer
Kirsten Nunez is a health and lifestyle journalist based in Beacon, New York. She has a Master of Science in Nutrition from Texas Woman's University and Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from SUNY Oneonta.
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN
Expert review by
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN
mbg Vice President of Scientific Affairs
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN is Vice President of Scientific Affairs at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's degree in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Georgia.
May 16, 2022
We carefully vet all products and services featured on mindbodygreen using our commerce guidelines. Our selections are never influenced by the commissions earned from our links.

If your routine could use a pick-me-up, it may be time to consider guarana. This berry can keep you on your A game, thanks to its energizing effects on the body and mind.* (So much so that it's a main ingredient in focus+, mbg's plant-powered nootropic supplement.)

After all, when you've got things to do and places to be, it can be tempting to reach for an extra cup of coffee (or two) to feel awake. But this approach will only take you so far, especially if you're also craving sustainable mental clarity and precision.*

In mbg's focus+, guarana works synergistically with other ingredients to provide throughout-the-day energy benefits beyond the typical "boost."* What's more, the ingredient delivers whole-body health properties by supporting multiple areas of wellness, including the skin and cardiovascular system.*

Ahead, learn about the health benefits of guarana, plus how it can help you tackle the day with ease.

What is guarana fruit?

Guarana is a small, round berry that's native to Brazil, according to Uma Naidoo, M.D., nutritional psychiatrist and author of This Is Your Brain on Food. For thousands of years, it's been used by Indigenous communities in the Amazon1 for its naturally stimulating effects.*

The fruit, which is about the size of a coffee berry (ahem, yet another powerhouse plant featured in mbg's focus+ formula), is known for its peculiar appearance. It consists of a red outer skin and white pulp that, when ripe, breaks open to expose a black seed. In turn, it resembles a human eye.

The seed, however, is the real star of the show. According to a 2021 scientific review in the Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, the seeds are separated from the skin and pulp—then fermented, roasted, and ground into a powder.

Traditionally, this powder is consumed in tea or mixed into beverages, says Naidoo. "But in the modern market, it's largely available in energy [drinks] and soft drinks," she adds.

Guarana is also found as an extract in some nootropic supplements2, like capsules and tablets. You'll want to look for the botanical genus and species Paullinia cupana on the label, along with the plant part (i.e., seed extract).

As a botanical ingredient, guarana offers an impressive cocktail of native antioxidant compounds, including the unique phytonutrient caffeine. These bioactives collectively are responsible for the ingredient's many valuable whole-body benefits. 

Benefits of guarana fruit, powder, and extract.

Guarana seed powder and extract have been used for centuries—and for good reason, too. The benefits of guarana span myriad areas of wellness. Below, discover some of the ingredient's most notable health effects:


Provides an array of antioxidants.

When it comes to antioxidants, guarana doesn't disappoint. The Amazonian berry offers antioxidant compounds like theobromine, tannins, saponin, catechins, and caffeine, according to Paula Doebrich, MPH, RDN, registered dietitian and founder of Happea Nutrition. These antioxidants help the body fight off free radicals, Naidoo tells mbg, ultimately protecting cells, tissue, and organs from oxidative stress.*


Promotes energy and focus.

If guarana had a claim to fame, this would be it. As Naidoo notes, "Guarana [promotes] energy due to its caffeine content, which is stimulating for both the body and mind."* In fact, guarana contains four times more caffeine3 than coffee beans, explains Maddie Pasquariello, M.S., RDN, registered dietitian and founder of Nutrition with Maddie. As you can imagine, this can be a lifesaver when you need to shake off physical and mental tiredness.*

The high content of antioxidants in guarana also lends a hand to these cognitive benefits, says Naidoo. These compounds help support brain health, which is key for optimal focus and mental clarity.*


Supports learning and memory.

According to Pasquariello, the caffeine in guarana nurtures cognitive function and performance, including important processes like memory, learning, processing, and attention.* 

Case in point: According to a 2019 scientific review in the journal Global Psychiatry, caffeine is considered to be a nootropic—i.e., a compound that promotes cognitive function.* It works by various mechanisms including increasing blood flow to the brain, which is essential for overall brain health and performance.* 

The same 2019 review found that guarana improved reaction time and accuracy of task performance in young, healthy adults, further bolstering this botanical's cognitive benefits.*

Moreover, in a 2004 Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior study, guarana was clinically shown to work synergistically4 with Panax ginseng to promote cognitive performance.* Thus, to fully leverage the benefits of guarana, you should consider consuming a product that contains both botanical ingredients (like mbg's focus+).


Supports healthy digestion and regularity.

As a source of caffeine, guarana may also help promote digestive function, notes Doebrich.* That's because caffeine contributes to bowel contractions5, effectively moving food through your digestive system and promoting regularity.* 

What's more, the tannins in guarana may support the formation of stool by regulating water secretion6 in your GI tract, as indicated in a 2012 scientific review in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.*


Supports healthy skin as we age.

Over time, free radicals and oxidative stress can reduce skin elasticity and speed up signs of skin aging7, such as fine lines. However, consuming plenty of antioxidants can help protect skin tissue against these effects, especially as we get older. As sources of antioxidants, guarana tea and supplements can aid your skin by supporting your body's natural antioxidant defenses.*

Additionally, a 2013 review from Skin Pharmacology and Physiology states the caffeine in guarana can enhance blood flow to the skin8, helping it look healthier and more youthful.*


Supports healthy heart function.

Due to the rich antioxidant content of guarana, the ingredient may have cardioprotective effects, according to a 2021 scientific review in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety.* Antioxidants, after all, are vital for supporting overall heart health and function. Specifically, the antioxidants in guarana have been found to protect lipid levels, which is crucial for maintaining cardiometabolic health.*


Promotes healthy eyes.

Interestingly, guarana might benefit the very body part it resembles. According to a compelling 2017 study9 in the Journal of Functional Foods, the antioxidants in guarana can help nurture eye health and vision.* This is especially important as we age, as our eyes age and visual acuity lessens over time. Needless to say, it's a guarana benefit you probably didn't see coming (pun intended).

Guarana side effects. 

Guarana, like other sources of caffeine (e.g., coffee and tea), is recognized to be a safe plant2 with a long history of use. Although complications and complaints are rare, side effects are possible in some cases.

For example, guarana can affect blood pressure, so it may have a negative impact if you're sensitive to caffeine or have blood pressure concerns. Additionally, ingesting too much of the ingredient can cause jitters and contribute to caffeine crashes, while taking it too late in the day can mess with your beauty sleep.

As Naidoo notes, we all react to caffeine differently, largely due to the uniqueness of our liver metabolism genetics, as well as our individualized gut microbiomes. That said, it's important to pay attention to how you react to caffeine-containing ingredients—guarana or otherwise—and use that information to personalize the quantity and timing of your intake.

To play it safe, avoid high doses of guarana, as you don't need much to reap the benefits. "Typically, a dose of less than 100 milligrams is enough to provide benefits," notes Pasquariello. It's also a good idea to consult your health care provider before adding guarana to your routine, just as you would with any supplement, she adds.

The takeaway.

Guarana, like coffee, is a multidimensional plant with thousands of years of historical use behind it. Guarana contains both caffeine and other antioxidants, which support multiple areas of well-being—including the brain, skin, gut, and eyes.* Plus, the native caffeine content of guarana can elevate your energy levels and naturally perk you up.*

If you're craving a daily dose of plant-powered brainpower, consider adding mbg's focus+ to your well-being routine: In addition to guarana seed extract, this nootropic supplement offers instant- and sustained-release caffeine from coffee fruit and beans, L-theanine, Panax ginseng root extract, and vitamin B12.* Together, these ingredients provide focused energy and productivity for whatever your day holds.*

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.
Kirsten Nunez, M.S. author page.
Kirsten Nunez, M.S.
Contributing writer

Kirsten Nunez is a health and lifestyle journalist based in Beacon, New York. She has a Master of Science in Nutrition from Texas Woman's University and Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from SUNY Oneonta. Kirsten specializes in nutrition, fitness, food, and DIY; her work has been featured in a variety of publications, including eHow, SparkPeople, and international editions of Cosmopolitan. She also creates recipes for food product packaging.