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What One Energy Drink Does to Your Body

What's the same color as a highlighter, smells like swamp water and is responsible for 21,000 emergency room visits per year due to caffeine toxicity?

Nope, not soda—we're talking about energy drinks like Rockstar, Monster and Red Bull, which can contain up to five times more caffeine than a cup of coffee. Although they may give you wings and make your workout feel like a breeze, energy drinks also spike blood pressure and stress levels, and increase the risk of heart problems in otherwise healthy young adults, according to a new Mayo Clinic study.

To come to this finding, researchers had 25 healthy volunteers (with an average age of 29) consume either a 16-ounce energy drink or a stimulant-free placebo beverage that contained the same amount of sugar and calories. After sipping the energy drink, study participants had a 74 percent increase in blood levels of the "fight-or-flight" stress hormone norepinephrine, while those who sipped the fake energy drink only experienced a 30 percent increase in the hormone. Blood pressure levels also soared after sipping the caffeine-packed drink, according to the report.

"The worry is that if these responses are seen in healthy young people, perhaps the effects of energy drinks may be more pronounced in people who already have high blood pressure or arrhythmias," leading to more heart attacks and strokes, said lead researcher and cardiologist Dr. Anna Svatikova.

Eat This! Tip

Skip the energy drink and give yourself an energy boost with the help of black coffee or one of these 22 Best Teas for Energy and Weight Loss . Alternatively, if you really can't quit your energy drink habit, stick to one of these 7 Natural Energy Drinks for a Natural Boost.


Dana Leigh Smith
Dana has written for Women's Health, Prevention, Reader's Digest, and countless other publications. Read more about Dana Leigh