L-Theanine: An Ingredient to Watch
What is L-Theanine?
L-theanine is an amino acid found in green and black tea leaves that is moving from the niche to the mainstream. Offering relaxation benefits, L-theanine is quickly becoming the ingredient of choice for health and wellbeing brands looking to introduce soothing effects to their product range.
According to research from Mintel, the number of products containing L-theanine as an ingredient has increased by 85% globally over the past five years. 41% of these product launches have been in the healthcare category, followed by beverages and sport and energy drinks.
L-Theanine as a relaxant
According to Psychology Today, L-theanine is classed as an anxiolytic, which means it can help to reduce anxiety. Compared to other anxiolytics, L-theanine offers the additional advantage of relaxation and stress-reduction benefits without any sedation or drowsiness effects.
Although a non-sedative, some recent L-theanine product launches have included claims on encouraging sleep through a combination of botanical and functional ingredients associated with a sense of calm. There is potential to explore other opportunities in this category as consumers are increasingly interested in health and wellbeing claims. Notably is the PepsiCo 'Driftwell' beverage, which is enriched with L-theanine and magnesium to promote sleep.
Cognitive benefits of L-Theanine
Early research has shown synergistic benefits on focus and attentiveness when combining L-theanine with caffeine. The amino acid seems to increase both reaction time and attention span for those prone to anxiety, potentially by reducing the production of stress hormones that can disrupt particular cognitive functions.
L-Theanine for weight maintenance
As there is evidence to show that long-term anxiety and sleep disturbance can be associated with weight gain, it follows that anti-anxiety products such as L-theanine may help with weight management. The amino acid may also play a direct role in limiting weight gain and promoting a healthy weight, particularly when combined with caffeine.
Research has suggested that L-theanine offers immunity advantages and can even decrease upper respiratory tract infections and influenza. Other studies indicate inflammation reduction as a result of the amino acid.
Product development opportunities
With claims spanning health and wellbeing, physical and mental performance, there are opportunities for L-theanine to be incorporated into a range of product categories. The association with green tea expands product development potential into other categories, such as ice cream.
Learn more about L-Theanine product development
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