Guarana

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Guarana (pronounced /ˌɡwɑrəˈnɑː/, from the Portuguese pronunciation: [gwarɐˈnaː], Paullinia cupana (syn. P. crysan, P. sorbilis) is a climbing plant in the maple family, Sapindaceae, native to the Amazon basin and especially common in Brazil. Guarana features large leaves and clusters of flowers, and is best known for its fruit, which is about the size of a coffee bean. As a dietary supplement, guarana is an effective energy booster:[1] it contains about twice the caffeine found in coffee beans (about 2–4.5% caffeine in guarana seeds compared to 1–2% for coffee beans).[2]

As with other plants producing caffeine, the high concentration of caffeine is a defensive toxin that repels pathogens from the berry and its seeds.[3]

The guarana fruit's colour ranges from brown to red and contains black seeds which are partly covered by white arils. The colour contrast when the fruit has been split open has been likened to eyeballs; this has formed the basis of a myth.[4]

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History and culture

The word guarana comes from the Portuguese guaraná, which has its origins in the Sateré-Maué word for the plant, warana.[5]

Guarana plays an important role in Tupi and Guaraní Brazilian culture. According to a myth attributed to the Sateré-Maué tribe, guarana's domestication originated with a deity killing a beloved village child. In order to console the villagers, a more benevolent god plucked the left eye from the child and planted it in the forest, resulting in the wild variety of guarana. The god then plucked the right eye from the child and planted it in the village, giving rise to domesticated guarana.[6]

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