Your diet plays a crucial role in every aspect of your health, especially when it comes to your heart. You likely already know that there are many foods out there that can take a toll on your cardiovascular health and increase your risk of heart disease. But in addition to artery-clogging foods, there are also many beverages that could lead to these issues. Being aware of the worst options that could be raising your risk of disease and other cardiovascular problems is an important part of staying as healthy as possible.
To discover a few potentially artery-clogging beverages that you may not already know about, we spoke to registered nutritionist Catherine Gervacio, BHSc, RND. She told us that energy drinks, vegetable juices, and store-bought smoothies could all pose a risk to your heart. Learn more about why below.
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1. Energy Drinks
We could all use a caffeine fix from time to time. And if coffee isn’t your thing (despite the benefits) or you need something a little heavier duty, you may reach for energy drinks. However, Gervacio warns that regularly consuming these sugary, caffeinated beverages could be dangerous for your heart over time.
“Energy drinks commonly contain caffeine and sugar which may elevate blood pressure and contribute to arterial stiffness,” she says. “Caffeine can temporarily increase blood pressure by stimulating the release of adrenaline.”
The sugar content, in particular, is especially concerning. It’s no secret that consuming excessive amounts of sugar can be detrimental to your health, including that of your heart. “A diet that is high in added sugar can lead to dyslipidemia or an imbalance of blood lipid levels,” Gervacio warns.
Luckily, there are plenty of healthy alternatives. “Instead of energy drinks, opt for green tea or black coffee to feel energized and alert. However, both should still be taken in moderation,” Gervacio says.
2. Certain Vegetable Juices
Vegetables are oftentimes touted as the healthiest foods around—and for good reason! Eating an ample amount of nutrient-rich veggies can do wonders for your health. However, Gervacio notes that some store-bought vegetable juices are a different story. They could do more harm than good when it comes to your heart.
“There are vegetable juices that have a high sodium content which can elevate the blood pressure, stressing the cardiovascular diseases,” she says. “Consuming too much sodium can lead to an increase in blood volume and fluid retention, which then raises blood pressure.” Yikes! Who knew?
“As an alternative, make fresh vegetable juice at home to control the salt and even the sugar content,” Gervacio suggests. There are plenty of healthy, tasty juice recipes out there.
3. Commercial Fruit Smoothies
Like vegetable juice, it can be surprising to some to hear that many fruit smoothies are actually unhealthy. When you make smoothies at home, they’re a perfect way to fit healthy fruits into your diet. But as it turns out, most bottled varieties that you’ll find at the store are loaded with sugar, making them a poor choice for your heart health.
“Some commercial smoothies have a high amount of added sugar which may contribute to inflammation, insulin resistance, and potential damage to the arteries,” Gervacio tells us.
As she explains, “It’s better to make your own smoothies and add whole fruits, vegetables, dairy, or other ingredients without added sugars.” Got it!
The bottom line
Ultimately, it’s important to be aware of how the foods and beverages you’re putting into your body could be impacting your health. While treating yourself to your favorite store-bought smoothie every now and then won’t necessarily result in heart disease, limiting your intake of these potentially harmful beverages is one great way to ensure you’re on the right track to a healthier heart, and a healthier body overall. Fortunately, there are many delicious heart-healthy beverages to replace them with.