MadSci Network: Botany

Re: Can caffeine be found naturally in fruits or vegetables?

Date: Tue Feb 12 00:55:57 2002
Posted By: David Hershey, Faculty, Botany, NA
Area of science: Botany
ID: 1013489655.Bt

From a plant perspective, caffeine is a secondary compound, meaning that it is 
not involved in basic metabolism, like primary compounds such as starch, DNA, 
amino acids, and chlorophyll. Thus caffeine is not found in substantial amounts 
in all plants. At least 100 species of plants do contain caffeine. Caffeine is 
found in large amounts mainly in certain human beverages obtained from seeds or 
leaves. I am not aware of high levels of caffeine in any common vegetables and 
nonbotanical fruits.

The main sources of caffeine in the human diet are coffee (from coffee seeds) 
and soft drinks such as colas (from cola nut seeds and also from added 
caffeine). Other sources include tea (leaves), chocolate (cacao seeds), guarana 
(seeds) and yerba mate (leaves). Added caffeine in foods is obtained as a 
byproduct from the preparation of decaffeinated coffee. Many processed foods 
containing coffee or chocolate also contain caffeine including frozen dairy 
desserts, baked goods, gelatin, puddings and pie fillings, and soft candy. 
Several headache pills and pep pills to keep you from falling asleep also 
contain caffeine. See the second website for amounts of caffeine present in 
medicines and foods. 


Plant Caffeine Sources

Caffeine Content of Foods and Drugs



Cola nut

Discovering the Sweet Mysteries of Chocolate

Plant Secondary Compounds

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