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Caffeine candy: Is it for you?

March 19, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
About a decade ago, the Food and Drug Administration limited the amount of added caffeine -- mostly found in soft drinks -- to 48 milligrams.But then energy drinks and fortified waters rolled into the market, and now this stimulating stuff is found in gum and candy.

Is it in your favorite sweets? Take a look.

Along with improving physical and mental performance, caffeine has been shown to help lift mood and reduce pain. Studies show caffeine can reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease and gallstones.

However, when too much caffeine is consumed, it can interrupt sleep, slash fertility odds and increase the risk of miscarriage. Experts recommend on average 250 milligrams as a reasonable amount for those tolerant of caffeine.

We get most of our caffeine from coffee, but with drooping candy sales, manufacturers are creating confections with a kick to appeal to adults and athletes rather than children.

Jelly Belly Extreme Sports Beans, one of the first sweets with a buzz, offer 50 milligrams of caffeine per bag along with some electrolytes. The beans are geared mainly for endurance athletes needing to replenish fuel stores in lieu of sport drinks.

Then there's Mad Croc Energy Gum. Two pieces of this so-called "energy with a wild bite" has about the same amount of caffeine as an energy drink, 75 milligrams.

Three little Ice Breakers mints offer 30 milligrams of caffeine, equal to less than a half a cup of coffee.

Clif Bar Peanut Toffee Buzz has 50 milligrams of caffeine coming from green tea extract. But bars like LaraBar's Jocalate, ThinkThin Chocolate Mudslide, Clif Nectar Cacao, or even Coffee Nibs fail to 'fess up. They do list coffee or caffeine in the ingredient list, but don't offer the amounts. Is it mere flavoring or a potent dose?

Keep in mind ingredients are listed by weight so how high caffeine or coffee sits on the list is a decent indicator of how much is in your food.

If your favorite food has caffeine or coffee in it but no information on the nutrition label, turn it over and call the 800 number on the package to get the facts. Coffee, cola, now candy? It all adds up.

 

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