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Staying relaxed: 5 places you didn’t expect to find caffeine

Considering how tired the average American is – having to deal with the burdens of life in the 21st Century – it is no surprise that people are looking to caffeine more and more to stay alert. But caffeine isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, having two or three cups of coffee a day will actually spark your brain into action, cut stress, and even help you to live longer. But the problem is when you have too much caffeine that things can go south.

If you drink, for example, six to eight cups of coffee a day, you will likely see some significant side effects, including anxiety, dehydration, and trouble sleeping. Since you are having that extra cup of coffee to help you stay up, it is counter-productive if you can’t get a good night’s sleep.

But even if you watch your caffeine intake, you may still be getting more than you may expect, as some foods and drinks that you thought were fine actually contain caffeine. Here are five examples of this:

Decaf

So you want a cup of Joe but you don’t want the caffeine. You order the decaf from your favorite coffee shop and you feel good about the fact that you controlled yourself. However, according to a study conducted by Consumer Reports in 2007, the average cup of decaf coffee has over one-fifth the caffeine of a regular cup of coffee. A regular coffee contains, on average, around 100 milligrams of caffeine, but the decaf alternative frequently contains well over 20 milligrams.

Chocolate

The cocoa bean naturally has caffeine in it, so logically chocolate is a source of caffeine. Luckily, your average piece of chocolate has less than 10 milligrams of caffeine, which shouldn’t cause any problems. However, the darker the chocolate the more caffeine it contains. For example, Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Bar contains over 40 milligrams of caffeine.

All soft drinks – not just Coke

We are all aware that colas are one of the main sources of caffeine. We have always reached for a can of Coke for a quick energy boost. But if you are trying to curb your caffeine, it is best to stay away from all soft drinks, not just the black stuff. Root beer, lemon-lime sodas, and even orange sodas contain about 45 milligrams of caffeine.

Ice cream

Ice cream, if it is chocolate or coffee flavored, will definitely give you a jolt. Many coffee and chocolate flavored ice creams contain between 30 and 45 milligrams of caffeine per half cup. That’s quite significant, considering a can of Coke has the same amount. Remember; you should only have about 100 to 120 milligrams of caffeine a day; any more than that and you’re treading on dangerous ground.

Energy water

Thanks to the popularity of sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade, caffeinated water has become the latest trend. These drinks are designed to give you a quick lift, but they contain more caffeine than both a cup of coffee and a can of Coke. Some brands have over 50 milligrams of caffeine per serving.