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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I’ve researched the science and safety behind energy drinks and their ingredients since 2003. This book is the culmination of my research:

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Monster Energy hit US markets in 2002 and helped establish the energy drink stereotype: “energy drinks are dangerous concoctions with high amounts of caffeine and sugar”. It’s hard to deny this stereotype is still applicable, however, there are a growing number of caffeinated beverages which don’t fit this mold. What happens when one of the energy drink companies responsible for the Energy Drink Boom comes out with one of these not-quite-an-energy-drink alternatives?

I declared myself a biochemistry/chemistry major in 2003 – right at the beginning of the Energy Drink Boom. Fascinated by these drinks and all the fears surrounding their use, I’ve applied my education (and basically all my free time) toward understanding the science behind energy drinks and their ingredients. After 10+ years in this field, I believe parents have a right to be concerned about energy drinks, but that concern needs the right context to do anybody any good. How concerned should we be about the safety of Caffe Monster Energy Coffee?

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I declared myself a biochemistry/chemistry major in 2003 – right at the beginning of the Energy Drink Boom. Fascinated by these drinks and all the fears surrounding their use, I’ve applied my education (and basically all my free time) toward understanding the science behind energy drinks and their ingredients. In 2003, energy drinks contained synthetic caffeine as well as caffeine extracts from guarana and yerba mate. While synthetic caffeine was often criticized for being synthetic, guarana and yerba mate were often criticized for being “dangerous stimulants”. Then along came green coffee bean extract and coffeeberry/coffee fruit. As a caffeine consumer, you may be wondering, what is it about green coffee beans and coffeeberry that make it special? I encourage you to geek out with me over these game-changing energy drink ingredients.

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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
  • Caffeine and Hydration – What does research tell us?
  • Caffeinated Water Spotlights

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GreenEyedGuide talks Delayed Release Caffeine on ScienceMeetsFood.org

“It’s 3:00 pm and you’re exhausted. You woke up exhausted, but you had coffee for breakfast, and now you’re exhausted again. You are now thinking that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to stay up ‘til 1 am watching Olympic snowboarding after all. Or maybe you’ve recently discovered you do your best thesis writing at 10:00 pm when you finally have time to sit down and relax. Whatever the reason, we all have all those days where the struggle is real to stay awake and remain focused.”

sci meets food delayed caffeine IG post

In this ScienceMeetsFood post, I share the three methods for making caffeine last longer: The Gilmore Girl Method, the Violet Beauregarde Method, and the Russian Doll Method. Discover the science behind delayed-release caffeine, and how this technology is reshaping caffeine consumption (and safety?) as we know it.

Read the full article on ScienceMeetsFood –>

science meets food caffeine release snippet


[1] Caffeine Informer. “Caffeine Informer Database” https://www.caffeineinformer.com/caffeine-in-candy  ;  https://www.caffeineinformer.com/efs-guide-to-caffeine-gum

[2] Heckman, M. A., Weil, J. and De Mejia, E. G. (2010), Caffeine (1, 3, 7-trimethylxanthine) in Foods: A Comprehensive Review on Consumption, Functionality, Safety, and Regulatory Matters. Journal of Food Science, 75: R77–R87. doi:10.1111/j.1750-3841.2010.01561.x

[3] Caffeine Informer. “Top 25+ Caffeine Health Benefits” https://www.caffeineinformer.com/top-10-caffeine-health-benefits

[4] Caffeine Informer. “20+ Harmful Effects of Caffeine” https://www.caffeineinformer.com/harmful-effects-of-caffeine

[5] Caffeine Informer. “Caffeine Hangover and Crash: What It Is and How to Avoid It” https://www.caffeineinformer.com/caffeine-hangover-caffeine-crash

[6] US FDA. “Added Caffeine in Gum.” Food Additives and Ingredients, 19 Dec. 2017, www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/foodadditivesingredients/ucm396885.htm.

[7] Caffeine Informer. “Guide to Caffeinated Gum” https://www.caffeineinformer.com/efs-guide-to-caffeine-gum

[8] ZumXR. “Patented Innovations” http://www.zumxr.com/patents

[9] Medscape. “Upper GI Tract Anatomy” https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1899389-overview

[10] EFSA NDA Panel (EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies), 2015. Scientific Opinion on the safety of caffeine. EFSA Journal 2015;13(5):4102, 120 pp. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2015.4102

[11] Maxx Performance. “The Case for Sustained-Release Caffeine” http://www.maxxperformance.com/stories/supplements/sustained-release-caffeine/


I’ve researched the science and safety behind energy drinks and their ingredients since 2003. This book is the culmination of my research:

Need help with quitting caffeine?