New Research Links Energy Drinks to Altered Heart Function

New research emerged this month providing us one more reason that energy drinks should be consumed only in moderation, or not at all. According to a study presented ath the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), healthy adults who consumed energy drinks high in caffeine and taurine had significantly increased heart contraction rates one hour later.

The study, led by Daniel K Thomas, M.D., used MRI to measure the effect of energy drink consumption on heart function in 18 healthy volunteers. The mostly male volunteers had an average age of 27. 

According to the research team, the results of cardiac MRI performed one hour after the study participants consumed the energy drink revealed significantly increased peak strain and peak systolic strain rates (measurements for contractility) in the left ventricle of the heart. The heart's left ventricle receives oxygenated blood from the lungs and pumps it to the aorta, which distributes it throughout the rest of the body. 

"We've shown that energy drink consumption has a short-term impact on cardiac contractility," says radiology resident Jonas Dorner, M.D., a member of the research team. "Further studies are needed to evaluate the impact of long-term energy drink consumption and the effects of such drinks on individuals with heart disease." Dr. Dorner concluded by recommending that children and people with known cardiac arrhythmias avoid energy drinks. 

Instead of waiting for further research to prove that energy drinks loaded with caffeine, sugar, chemicals, and extreme amounts of taurine can be harmful for long-term consumption, let's break the habit now. 

Healthy alternatives exist to naturally boost your energy levels, while providing heath promoting benefits. If you are looking for an alternative to an energy drink, or even coffee, try one of the following:

Green Tea provides an energy boost thanks to caffeine, but also includes up to 17x the antioxidants found in blueberries

Yerba Mate is popular in South America and contains 196 vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and caffeine

Guayusa is an Amazonian beverage that offers the same caffeine found in coffee with twice the antioxidants found in green tea. Guayusa also has a very clean, smooth, sweet flavor. Guayusa doesn't contain tannins that can provide the sometimes bitter flavor associated with teas and yerba mates.

Try one of these alternatives next time you need a pick me up, your heart will thank you! Have you tried one of these health promoting alternative to coffee or energy drinks? Tell us about your favorite! 

Melissa Zimmerman, Healthy Goods

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