Come 3pm, there are two types of people - those who drink coffee, and those who reach for a can of Red Bull. The debates over which is better more often than not gives way to coffee.

However a recent study in the “American Journal of Cardiology” reveals that Red Bull may have the upper hand. It found that improvements in a person’s Endothelial function occur at greater rates after energy drinks are consumed as opposed to coffee. Endothelial cells cover blood vessels, and are responsible for maintaining healthy blood flow. Healthy circulation is also correlated with increased energy levels.

The paper, by doctors Janos Molnar and John C. Somberg, states that the growing consumption of energy drinks around the world “has been anecdotally linked to the development of adverse cardiovascular events, although clinical trials to support this association are lacking.”

The study was performed in the Clinical Testing Centre of the American Institute of Therapeutics, and saw 19 volunteers aged between 18-35 take part. None of the volunteers smoked or had any history of major health complications.

Six of these volunteers were required to drink either a 250ml can of Red Bull, a 57ml shot of sugar free ‘5-hour energy’, and a 355ml can of ‘NOS’. Participants were randomised to the sequence of drinks to be consumed. The other 16 volunteers consumed 473ml of ‘Starbuck’s K-cup Breakfast Bland coffee’.

Surprisingly, the researchers discovered that Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy (another energy drink popular in the U.S.) improved endothelial function at a greater rate than coffee. Results were taken at both one and a half, and four hours after consumption.

This led the researchers to conclude that the reasons for this is because of the ingredients in the drinks, which other than caffeine, “include taurine, glucuronolactone, niacine, ginseng, and guarana.”

So does this mean you should start drinking Red Bull when you feel tired? Not so, as most energy drinks contain vast amounts of sugar which is bad for your health. A plethora of case studies have also shown the negative effects of energy drinks, including myocardial dysfunction, heart palpitations, and even death.

Coffee on the other hand has been linked to increased alertness, improved moods, fat oxidation, and longer lifespans.

Essentially what science has found to improve and maintain healthy blood circulation is following a healthy lifestyle. This means not smoking, exercising on most days of the week and eating a balanced diet. Only then will your blood circulation operate optimally, meaning your chances of hitting the 3pm crash is minimised.

Nevertheless, like the researchers said:

“Future studies may elucidate the effects of these components.”

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