These Drinking Habits Are Wrecking Your Heart Health, Cardiologist Says
When it comes to maintaining good heart health, it's important that you stay away from certain drinks that could negatively affect one of your most vital organs. Of course, the key here is moderation—by no means are we suggesting you completely rid your diet of these options.
"You don't have to be perfect, but making better choices more often than bad ones will reward you many times over in terms of health," Elizabeth Klodas, MD, FACC, chief medical officer and founder of Step One Foods.
Here are four beverages you should stop drinking regularly, especially if you're at high risk of heart complications. Then, be sure to read up on our list of the 112 Most Popular Sodas Ranked by How Toxic They Are.
As Klodas explains that soda is a source of empty calories due to the fact that the calories you get from the added sugars provide no nutritional value. As a result, the extra table sugar you consume in these soft drinks can lead to weight gain over time, which can then lead to other health consequences such as high blood pressure and high blood sugar levels.
"There are more immediate effects related to increased insulin levels which leads to abnormal cholesterol profiles, i.e. higher LDL, lower HDL, and higher triglycerides," she says.
Instead, Klodas recommends sparkling water, not diet soda.
"Note that diet soda has effects on the gut microbiome that also raise insulin levels which leads to the same downstream effects as regular soda—even increasing the risk of diabetes," she adds.
While fruit juice, like orange juice, can be a good source of vitamins and antioxidants, they often don't include any fiber. This means they won't be as satiating or offer as many health benefits as the actual fruit itself.
"They act more like a sugary soda inside our bodies than a piece of fruit," says Klodas.
Instead, try eating the actual fruit versus the drinking juice!
"Whole fruit provides fiber and plant sterols which help lower cholesterol and reduce insulin release," she says. "At the very least, dilute all juice with water."
"Alcohol increases blood pressure [levels] and the risk of heart rhythm abnormalities," says Klodas. "If you have high blood pressure you should really reduce intake to a maximum of one standard drink per day."
For context, a standard drink is equivalent to about 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of spirits, or 12 ounces of beer.
"If you have a history of atrial fibrillation episodes, eliminating all alcohol intake makes sense as even one drink can increase the likelihood of a recurrent episode," she says.
Instead, just drink water or try a non-alcoholic spirit like Ritual.
"And if you drink to relax, think about something completely different like meditation," says Klodas.
"Caffeine and other stimulants that are present in energy drinks raise blood pressure [levels] and the risk of rhythm abnormalities," says Klodas.
Instead, try going for a run.
"Exercise is a great way to boost energy while affording all sorts of other health benefits," she says.
For more, be sure to read Unhealthiest Energy Drinks on the Planet, According to Dietitians! Then, don't forget to sign up for our newsletter for more tips on how to make heart-healthy diet choices.