10 Energy Drinks That Won’t Hurt Blood Vessels

A study presented at the November 2018 American Heart Association conference claimed, “Just one energy drink may hurt blood vessel function.” It’s been a few months since the last “energy drinks are killing people” freak out, so I suppose we were due.  Instead of pointing out all the limitations in the study (because this Healthline article beat me to it and did a great job) I’m going to skip the science for today and just talk about the 10 energy drinks that will not hurt your blood vessels.

Wait, what? Don’t ALL energy drinks hurt your blood vessels?

Yes and no: Some would argue the drinks I’m going to list below aren’t really “energy drinks”. And that’s true – they are not the stereotypical energy drink, but they are caffeinated beverages intended to give the drinker energy. If you want to call them “caffeinated beverages” instead of “energy drinks”, I don’t care.

To me, the larger problem is that these kinds of drinks are always omitted from the “energy drinks are dangerous concoctions of high caffeine and sugar” stories. While there are indeed QUITE A FEW energy drinks with high amounts of caffeine and sugar, there has also been a huge wave of energy drinks that don’t match the stereotype.

Too often, research studies and news stories only address the worst without acknowledging how wonderful it is we have more options than Red Bull, Monster, and their copycats. We’ve come SO FAR in the energy drink world since 2003…I sure wish more people would act like it.

Moving on…

AHA News Brief - Just one energy drink may hurt blood vessel function
Source: https://newsroom.heart.org/news/just-one-energy-drink-may-hurt-blood-vessel-function

Just one energy drink may hurt blood vessel function if…

In the study presented at the AHA conference, the energy drink used was (take note!) 24-ounces. There’s no information about what ingredients were in this giant energy drink, but the authors note the following:

Higgins and colleagues believe that the negative effect may be related to the combination of ingredients in the energy drink, such as caffeine, taurine, sugar and other herbals on the endothelium (lining of the blood vessels). – AHA Meeting News Brief

How much caffeine? They don’t say.

How much sugar? They don’t say.

What kind of “herbals”? They don’t say.

Thanks, super helpful!

I’m sure this information will be included in the poster, itself, or if/when this study gets published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. However, I’m going to get all high-and-mighty and say it’s pretty irresponsible to omit this information from the press release knowing the headline “energy drinks hurt blood vessels” is going to be picked up by several major news outlets.

(Try it: Google “energy drinks” and “blood vessels” and look at how much Click-Bait comes up)

To me, omitting the specifics of the energy drink when suggesting it causes harm is like saying, “Just one vegetable may give you E coli.” This information is not helpful, it just causes fear. Up your game, would you please?

These are all energy drinks

Okay, so what caffeine CAN I drink?

Since we already know we’re not supposed to have more than 200 mg caffeine at one time (thank you European Food Safety Authority!), all we have to do is find a caffeinated beverage without this “dangerous” combination of caffeine, taurine, sugar, and so-called “other herbals”.

…also, it would help if the energy drink was NOT in a giant-a$$ 24-ounce can. Gee, I wish there were more energy drinks that came in 8.4- or 16-ounce cans…

The following caffeinated beverages are low-sugar or sugar-free, taurine-free, herbal-free, and have less than 200 mg caffeine per serving. They are alphabetized to avoid indication of my favorites (it’d be like picking a favorite puppy)

  1. Avitae Caffeinated Water
    [GreenEyedGuide Review] [site] [CaffeineInformer]
  2. Bai Antioxidant Infusion (yes, this has caffeine!)
    [GreenEyedGuide Review] [site] [Caffeine Informer]
    [GreenEyedGuide Review] [site] [CaffeineInformer]
    (and why not Bang Energy)
  4. Clean Energy Organics
    [GreenEyedGuide Review] [site] [CaffeineInformer-N/A]
  5. Hydrive
    [GreenEyedGuide Review] [site] [CaffeineInformer]
  6. Main Squeeze
    [GreenEyedGuide Review] [site] [Caffeine Informer-N/A]
  7. Mati
    [GreenEyedGuide Review] [site] [CaffeineInformer]
  8. Mio Energy
    [GreenEyedGuide Review] [site] [CaffeineInformer]
  9. Steaz Iced Green Tea
    [GreenEyedGuide Review] [site] [CaffeineInformer]
  10. V8 Energy
    [GreenEyedGuide Review] [site] [CaffeineInformer]
  11. BONUS!!! Elite Ops Energy Strips (Not an energy drink but an energy strip)
    [GreenEyedGuide Review] [site] [CaffeineInformer-N/A]

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Caffeinated Water 101

How does caffeinated water compare to energy drinks in terms of ingredients and safety? What does the latest research say about caffeine and hydration? As a food scientist who’s studied the science behind energy drinks since 2003, I believe caffeinated waters can be a great alternative to the stereotypical energy drink, but there’s a lot more to consider before deciding whether caffeinated waters are right for you.


  • Caffeinated Waters 101 – Safety, Science, and Preferences
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Research Recap: How do caffeine and taurine affect the heart muscle (myocardium)?

One of the biggest questions surrounding energy drinks is whether they are more dangerous for the heart than caffeine from coffee. Some people worry it’s the combination of ingredients, not just the caffeine content itself, which makes energy drinks more dangerous. As a biochemist studying energy drinks, I strive to better understand this risk by reviewing the latest research on caffeine and energy drink ingredients. In this Research Recap, we’ll review an experiment on how caffeine and taurine affect the contraction behavior of the heart muscle. Read more

Energy Drinks in the News – The effects of Alpha-GPC versus caffeine on mood, cognitive function, and performance

Here at GreenEyedGuide.com, my goal is to share the science behind energy drinks and their ingredients. In a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, caffeine goes head to head against Alpha-GPC in a battle of jitters and performance metrics. Which do you think is going to win?

This article is Open Access (hurray!) but, because it’s a poster presentation, it’s only two-pages long (aww….). Still, let’s dissect the details, shall we? Read more

Consumption of Energy Drinks Among College Students in Quebec – Energy Drinks in the News (SPIN ALERT)

Turns out not a lot of college students in Quebec drink energy drinks, but watch out for how the news will spin concern about those who do.

Here’s the journal article (via capture because there’s no link to read the full thing):

source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28252368
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28252368


This study involves over TEN THOUSAND college students across THIRTY-SIX different public colleges in Quebec.

Out of the 10,283 people who participated in the survey, only ~9.1% reported consuming an energy drink at least once a week in the previous month.

This means 9,348 out of 10,283 college students surveyed do not have an energy drink every week (like, zero energy drinks at all? For the whole week? In college?)



Because this is college, the study also looked at alcohol consumption and use of cannabis, glues/solvents, and amphetamines.

FACT – Mixing energy drinks and alcohol is a baaaaaaaaadddd idea. This study properly suggests that combination of alcohol and energy drinks poses a risk for serious adverse effects. 

FALSE – Any statements like “college students who use energy drinks are more likely to abuse psychoactive substances…more likely to demonstrate excessive use of alcohol”

Approximately 1-in-4 people (247 out of 935, ~26%) who said they drink at least one energy drink said they also use psychoactive substances. This finding is not proof that energy drinks were a gateway to psychoactive substances for these people. How many people use psychoactive substances but not energy drinks?

There were even fewer people who reported consuming alcohol-energy drink combos (109 out of 935 people. 1.1%).

That means I have at least 109 more people to convince that this combo is a waste of booze (because you won’t feel it/can’t enjoy it) and a dangerous idea (because you won’t feel drunk, but you ARE in fact impaired).



The journal article conclusion reads

“A majority of respondents are not heavy users of ED (energy drinks), AED (alcohol+energy drinks), or ED with drugs.”

Can we just stop there and celebrate that for a minute before we give fodder to the “Energy Drinks are Poison” camp?

“Yet, the profiles of ED consumption potentially harmful to health that characterize some participants indicate that the potential health consequences of such behaviour are of concern.”

I am worried this last line will get translated as, “some participants who consume energy drinks exhibit behavior that is potentially harmful to health, so we should probably be worried about all energy drink consumers.”




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