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The #1 Worst Cocktail For Your Heart, Says Dietitian

It's a very popular drink.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

After a long day, one may opt for an espresso martini to both relax and get a jolt of caffeine. After all, they come in decadent flavors and offer a savory coffee taste so many of us have come to love.

While this drink may be one of the most popular orders at the bar, an espresso martini can be fairly unhealthy for your heart.

The mix of alcohol, a depressant, and caffeine, a stimulant, is something that can have a "damaging effect on the heart and all of the organ systems," explains Sydney Greene, MS, RD, a registered dietitian and member of the Eat This, Not That! medical expert board.

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"Caffeine speeds up heart rate, raises blood pressure, and activates the central nervous system," Greene says.

If you already suffer from high blood pressure, putting additional strain on your blood pressure by consuming more caffeine may negatively affect your heart. The American Heart Association explains that excess strain and resulting damage from high blood pressure can cause plaque buildup in the coronary arteries, increasing the risk of blood clots that can lead to heart attacks. It's worth mentioning, however, that researchers have found drinking coffee on its own may actually lower heart failure risk. The issue with espresso martinis is that coffee is mixed with alcohol.

"Caffeine will mask the effect of alcohol, which might cause someone to drink more than they could typically tolerate," Greene notes.

A study from the National Library of Medicine found that mixing alcohol and caffeine can result in lower reports of feeling sedated and higher reports of feeling stimulated. This can make for a dangerous combination. Someone may end up drinking far too much, but they possibly won't realize it due to the caffeine in the drink. Researchers have found a causal relationship between higher alcohol consumption and increased risk of stroke, so caffeine and alcohol make for a dangerous combination if you're watching your heart health.

Besides its effect on your heart, espresso martinis are generally not the healthiest alcoholic drink you can order. An espresso martini will set you back about 200 calories, about the "same amount as a protein bar [but] without any of the nutrients to fuel you," Greene says.

"Some will add chocolate syrup or simple syrup for sweetness," Greene adds, which makes this drink an extra sugary choice.

When asked what would be a healthier option for those who'd like to enjoy a drink, Greene suggests staying away from mixed drinks altogether.

"Alcohol is a toxin to the body and there are no health benefits to consuming it," Greene says. But if you do want to indulge, "a less damaging option to espresso martinis is wine, straight alcohol on the rocks, beer, or cider."

For more about alcohol, check out Developing This Drinking Habit May Be a Sign of Dementia, Says New Study.

Kristen Warfield
Kristen Warfield is the weekend editor for Eat This, Not That! and is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz’s journalism program in the Hudson Valley region of New York. Read more