New Study Shows Energy Drinks Increase Strain in Heart

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Feel like you need a nap in the middle of the day? Well you are probably not alone, especially at this time of year. With all the holiday parties and errands to run, you might be lacking a little more than usual in sleep. And perhaps, like many sleep-deprived people, you reach for an energy drink to keep you going. But hold on—new evidence shows that those oh-so-popular drinks could have a not-so-positive effect on your heart.

According to a new study recently presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, healthy adults who consumed energy drinks have “significantly increased” heart contraction rates. The small study, which is ongoing, consisted of 15 healthy men and 3 healthy women, with an average age of 27.5 years. Results showed that 1 hour after consuming an energy drink, which contained 400mg/100 ml taurine and 32 mg/100 ml caffeine, each participants’ MRI showed an increase peak strain and peak systolic strain rates in the heart’s left ventricle.

The researchers involved in the study say they do not yet know whether this change in heart rhythm affects daily activities or athletic performance. While additional research is needed to fully understand the effect, I personally think there are healthier and more natural ways to energize throughout the day. My favorite pick-me-up is a snack that provides fiber and protein for energy, rather than simply sugar and caffeine.

Here are my suggestions of what you should grab instead of an energy drink the next time you hit a mid-afternoon slump:

1. Low-fat Greek plain yogurt and a cup of berries (frozen berries are a good option when out of season)
2. A medium pear or apple with 1 Tbsp natural almond butter or a handful of roasted almonds
3. A low-sugar "granola" bar, i.e. Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate KIND Healthy Grains Bar (this variety includes five different 100% grains)
4. One serving of 100% whole-wheat crackers with two creamy wedges of The Laughing Cow Light Cheese (the new Light White Cheddar is my personal favorite)
5. 1/4 cup of roasted edamame (it packs a whopping 14g protein and 8g fiber per serving!)

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