Professor of the Practice of Law University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Energy Drinks & Your Heart

This Valentine’s Day week we focus on the heart.

Energy drinks may boost performance, but recent research suggests they have a negative impact on the heart.  Energy drinks have caused improper heartbeat and increased blood pressure in consumers. 

Researchers examined the effect of 17 different energy drinks on cardiomyocytes, the cells that make up the heart muscles and that enable the heart to pump blood to the body.  The heart cells were studied in vitro, which means they were exposed to energy drinks in a culture dish.  Researchers discovered that some energy drinks increased heart rate and the ingredients most suspected for this impact were theophylline, adenine, and azelate. 

A better option for reducing fatigue, improving concentration, and prolonging intellectual efficiency is caffeine found in coffee, tea, or chocolate.  Caffeine is an antagonist, which means it sits on receptors in our brain and blocks the impact of adenosine, which is the neurotransmitter that induces sleep. 

Coffee, tea, and chocolate (especially dark chocolate) contain antioxidants, which help to prevent the damage done by oxidation.  Oxidation creates free radicals which hasten aging, stimulate cancer, and rupture plaques which can cause heart attacks and strokes.  People who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease show signs of oxidative stress in their brains.  Antioxidants bind to and neutralize free radicals, and they protect against free radical damage to brain cells.

Takeaway:  When you feel sluggish, choose coffee, tea, or dark chocolate for beneficial antioxidants and a cognitive boost. 

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Microscope Master, Cardiomyocytes: Structure, Function, and Histology,,of%20blood%20around%20the%20body

Yu-Syuan Luo, et al., Relationships between Constituents of Energy Drinks and Beating Parameters in Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC)-Derived Cardiomyocytes, Food and Chemical Toxology, March 2021,

Neuroscience News, Energy Drinks’ Harmful Effects on Heart, Feb 10, 2021,

Debra S. Austin, Food for Thought: The Neuroscience of Nutrition to Fuel Cognitive Performance, 95 Or. L. Rev. 425, 458-460, 490-492 (2017), online at

#BrainHealth #MentalStrength #LawyerWellbeing

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