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Natural vs. synthetic caffeine: Which is better?


For many of us, caffeine is as much a part of our lives as work, mealtimes, and sleep. As the world’s favorite pick-me-up, it’s there to get us going in the morning and keep us going for the rest of the day. Whether you get your jolt from coffee, tea, energy drinks, or natural food sources, caffeine’s stimulating effects are celebrated all over the world—and have been for centuries.


Types of caffeine


You may have seen product labels with terms like “naturally occurring caffeine.” What’s the difference between natural and synthetic caffeine? Which type of caffeine is better? We’ll cover that, and more, in the article below.


Naturally occurring caffeine: Plant based


Natural caffeine is found in foods like coffee, tea, yerba mate, and chocolate. It occurs naturally, meaning the caffeine is part of the plant’s biochemistry and is not added later. 

Natural caffeine food sources are known for their rich variety of flavors. Coffee, for instance, has a whole spectrum of flavors even before creamers and other add-ons are mixed in. Tea has a similarly broad range, encompassing delicate green teas, robust black teas. Yerba mate has a rich, earthy flavor that is beloved all around the world, and chocolate can appeal to just about any taste palate.


In addition to its wide array of flavors, natural caffeine sources often contain a wealth of beneficial compounds like antioxidants, polyphenols, theobromine, mate saponins, and chlorogenic acids. These compounds add benefits—aside from the caffeine-powered energy boost—that support focus, mood, and overall health.


Synthetic caffeine: Lab created


Synthetic caffeine, on the other hand, is man-made. It is manufactured in laboratories using chemical processes. From there it is mass produced and added to energy drinks, supplements, and other food sources.


The production process of synthetic caffeine allows for precise control over purity and concentration, making it easier to meet specific potency requirements and provide uniform dosing. 


Because it is easy to create and easy to monitor, most caffeinated food sources contain synthetic caffeine.


Natural or synthetic caffeine: Which should you drink?


The energy boost you feel after drinking caffeine will feel similar whether your caffeine source is natural or synthetic. However, foods containing natural caffeine usually have richer flavors and typically contain more beneficial nutrients. Compounds like theobromine, which often occur alongside caffeine, may have a calming effect, which can help counteract the jitteriness you may feel after consuming caffeine. 


So if you’re looking for something with more health benefits and richer, more natural flavors, then natural caffeine would be a better option.


Foods with synthetic caffeine, on the other hand, often contain large amounts of added sugars and other compounds that have no nutritive value. These contribute to more frequent energy crashes as well, causing people’s energy levels to fluctuate wildly throughout the day. 


Still, if you are closely monitoring your caffeine intake, then synthetic caffeine may be preferable, since synthetic caffeine is usually added at a specified or standardized amount, whereas the content of natural caffeine in foods can vary due to factors such as growing, harvesting, and production conditions.


Get your natural caffeine fix with Unimate


Look to Unimate for your naturally occurring caffeine, which can be prepared in seconds any time you need a boost. It contains a high-quality, purified, ultra-concentrated yerba mate extract to support focus and mood. A source of chlorogenic acids, theobromine, mate saponins, and antioxidants, Unimate supports feelings of well-being without piling on substances (like sugar) you don’t need.


Try one of Unicity’s bold flavors today for a healthy alternative to coffee, energy drinks, and soda. Visit Unicity Shop to learn more.

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