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6 sources of caffeine in your diet

Lifestyle — Posted 31/01/14

How do you get your fix? We uncover the top places caffeine is lurking.

Caffeine is commonly referred to as the world’s most popular drug. According to FebFast, Aussies are consuming 5 billion coffees every year – and that’s just the start of it. If you thought your caffeine intake was limited to the cups of coffee you sink each day, think again. Caffeine is as sneaky as it is addictive and it can turn up in some surprising places, meaning you could be taking in a lot more caffeine than you realise. 

The Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) recommends you limit your daily caffeine intake to a max of 300-400 mg. Here are some of the most common sources of caffeine in your diet to keep an eye on…

1. Coffee 

Probably the most obvious source of caffeine in our diet is coffee. Coffee contains varying amounts of caffeine depending on your brew of choice. For example, a cup of instant coffee usually contains 60-80 mg of caffeine while fresh coffee tends to be stronger, with 80-120 mg of caffeine per cup. One shot of espresso packs a punch with just over 100 mg of caffeine in that little mouthful! Meanwhile a large latte or cappuccino will contain approximately 150 mg. Even decaffeinated coffee contains some traces of caffeine albeit very small amounts of about 2-10 mg per mug. 

We don’t need to fret too much about our coffee consumption here in Australia yet though! Despite our renowned coffee café culture we are only listed at no. 42 in the world for our annual coffee consumption per capita, drinking 3 kg of coffee each a year. 

2. Tea 

A cup of black tea contains anything from 25-110 mg of caffeine for a 250 ml serving, while a decaf tea still includes 2-10mg. Iced tea brands such as Snapple’s also include caffeine quantities of around 40 mg caffeine per bottle. Even some herbal teas like green tea contain up to 30- 50 mg per serve.

3. Chocolate 

As a rule of thumb, the darker the chocolate, the more caffeine it has. A 30 g bar of dark chocolate for example will contain about 20 mg of caffeine, while the same amount of milk chocolate may only have 6 mg.

We were not surprised to learn that Switzerland is the world’s largest chocolate consumer and we can’t say we blame them either – they make the best chocolate in the world! Here in Australia we’re pretty fond of our choccies too. The Australian chocolate industry is worth $2.5 billion each year, and we consume around 5-6 kg of chocolate per person each year. 

4. Cola drinks

Coca Cola is sold in more than 200 countries and altogether there are 1.7 billion servings of Coke sold every day! Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke... whatever your preference, they all contain similar amounts of caffeine, with Diet Coke at the lower end of the spectrum with 30 mg, while the rest have about 36-48 mg of caffeine per 350 ml can. 

5. Energy drinks 

Most of us are familiar with the advertising slogan of energy drink Red Bull which claims to “give you wings”. These energy-boosting qualities can be attributed to caffeine. Energy drinks contain on average 80 mg of caffeine per 250ml can and should not be confused with isotonic sports drinks, which are designed to replace electrolytes and do not contain caffeine.

6. Painkillers

Here’s one that might surprise you: caffeine can also be found in some over-the-counter medications like cough syrup or headache tablets. It makes sense really, as caffeine is a stimulant drug which has an effect on the brain and nervous system, and when taken in small amounts can help you feel focused and alert. When taken in large amounts however caffeine can leave you feeling anxious, fatigued, and can actually cause headaches.

Are you worried you’re becoming too dependent on your daily coffee fix?  Break away from the bad habit with a 28 day detox. This year FebFast are challenging you to give up caffeine for the month of February and raise money for a worthy cause.  For more information or to sign up visit febfast.org.au 

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