Caffeine Is More Prevalent Than You Would Think

Caffeine is something many people want to avoid for one reason or another. Whether it's for health reasons, such as avoidance during pregnancy, or simply because you do not want to be kept awake at night, knowing the sources of caffeine is helpful.

While most know that a can of cola or a cup of Joe contains caffeine, there are other foods and beverages where caffeine content could be a mystery.

* Decaffeinated does not mean caffeine-free. Decaf products contain considerably less caffeine than their full-strength counterparts. However, there are still detectable levels of caffeine present. Most brands of decaffeinated coffee, for example, have anywhere from 8 to 14 mg of caffeine per serving (regular coffee has 85 mg on average). For individuals sensitive to caffeine, even this small amount might result in some adverse effects.

* Watch your sodas. It's safe to assume that colas will contain caffeine, but clear sodas are okay, right? Actually some other sodas have more caffeine than Coke® or Pepsi®. Mountain Dew®, for example, has more caffeine per serving than other popular colas. Some orange sodas and root beers even have caffeine added.

* Read the label. The nutrition label of foods and beverages must list whether caffeine is "added" to a product. However, if it is naturally occurring, caffeine may not be listed.

* Don't forget the chocolate. Chocolate foods and beverages can have varying levels of caffeine. White chocolate will not, but milk chocolate and dark chocolate in particular can contain high amounts.

* Avoid coffee flavoring. If you're planning on digging into a coffee-flavored ice cream or yogurt, chances are there is caffeine present as well.

* Be aware of herbs and other caffeine sources. Caffeine can be present in things other than chocolate and coffee beans. Kola nuts, yerba mate, and guarana are all sources of the stimulant. Drinks or foods that contain these ingredients will give you a caffeine rush.

* Avoid nergy drinks/weight-loss aides. The ingredient providing the "boost" in many of these products is caffeine.

* Medications may be caffeinated. Some over-the-counter headache remedies and cold products contain caffeine. Read the labels of any medication to learn if caffeine is present.

* Green tea. Many people equate green tea to herbal tea. However, although it has less caffeine than black tea and much less than coffee, it still contains caffeine. The same can be said for iced tea products.

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