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Consumer Reports: Measuring Caffeine Amounts

October 1, 2011   Hartford Courant – www.courant.com

Caffeine is complicated. On one hand, moderate coffee drinking can reduce the risk of gallstones, Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes and other health problems. Caffeine helps relieve pain when combined with acetaminophen or other painkillers, and modest amounts of the stimulant can improve alertness and cognitive performance. On the other hand, too much caffeine can cause jitters, difficulty concentrating and sleep problems.

It’s not easy to know how much caffeine you’re getting. CR recently looked at 27 beverages, snacks and over-the-counter drugs that contain caffeine. Caffeine levels varied widely, from 12 milligrams in a 1.55-ounce bar ofHershey’s milk chocolate to a pulse-revving 415 milligrams in a 20 fluid-ounce Venti Starbucks Bold Pick of the Day. Diet Coke had more than Diet Pepsi (47 milligrams compared with 35 milligrams per 12-fluid-ounce serving), and that Venti Starbucks had 70 percent more caffeine than the same-size cup of Dunkin’ Donutsregular coffee.

Dark chocolate had more caffeine than milk chocolate, and a 6-ounce container of Dannon coffee-flavored yogurt had the same caffeine content, 30 milligrams, as just 4 ounces of Haagen-Dazs coffee frozen yogurt. Bottom Line: Check labels or brand websites for actual quantities.

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