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The Caffeine in Ice Cream

By Michelle Powell-Smith

If you enjoy a bowl of ice cream before bed, you might be disrupting your sleep. While some flavors won't impact your sleep, others can contain caffeine. If you're sensitive to caffeine, even a small amount may trigger insomnia or cause you to sleep badly. Save caffeinated creamy treats for daytime snacks.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant found in coffee, tea and chocolate. This drug stimulates the central nervous system, increasing alertness, alleviating fatigue and improving mental focus. Moderate doses of caffeine, under 300 milligrams per day, are safe for most adults. Kids should limit their consumption to no more than 100 milligrams per day. Higher doses may cause insomnia, agitation and anxiety. Some people are sensitive enough to these side effects that they prefer to avoid caffeine entirely.

Flavors

Many flavors of ice cream, including vanilla, strawberry, caramel and peanut butter, are free of caffeine. For an ice cream to contain caffeine, it must have a natural source of caffeine as an ingredient. Coffee ice cream, if naturally flavored, is often caffeinated. Chocolate ice creams or those with chocolate candy as an ingredient contain lower levels of caffeine.

Quantity

The amount of caffeine in ice cream varies and is affected by the serving size. An 8 ounce serving of coffee-flavored ice cream contains between 50 and 83 grams of caffeine, or about the same amount as half a cup of coffee. A cup of chocolate ice cream comes in at a much more moderate 6 milligrams of caffeine. Keep in mind that ice cream with added chocolate candy will have a higher amount of caffeine. Just 1/4 cup of chocolate candy adds 8 mg of caffeine to your bowl of ice cream.

Labeling

Information about caffeine is required on all nutrition labels, including ice cream. Check labels carefully before you buy, especially if you're a fan of coffee or mocha ice creams. If you're buying for the kids to enjoy at bedtime, opt for vanilla, strawberry or butter pecan over chocolate with chocolate candy chunks to help them rest through the night.

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