Are you suffering from heart palpitations? Those uncomfortable flutters or pounding sensations in your chest are usually harmless (and temporary) irregular heartbeats. Still, they can be scary, especially if you don’t know what’s causing them. While stress and anxiety are big factors, it’s also important to think about triggers in your diet. Certain foods and beverages can contribute to irregular rhythms.
Your tea may be to blame.
According to Kelly Johnson-Arbor, MD, medical toxicologist, and Co-Medical Director of Poison Control, black teas can increase the likelihood of palpitations because they contain caffeine. “Caffeine is a stimulant or ‘upper’ type of drug,” Dr. Johnson-Arbor says. “When taken in high doses, it can cause heart palpitations, anxiety, chest pain, sweating, and tremors. Black teas contain higher amounts of caffeine than green or white teas, and decaffeinated tea contains minimal caffeine.”
Caffeine doesn’t cause heart flutters in everyone, especially those of us who drink it daily. If your caffeine levels tend to vary, however, you may be more susceptible to irregular rhythms. You might also be at a higher risk if you take certain medications.
“Research has found a compound called catechins in green and black teas which relax the muscles along the blood vessels and raise blood pressure,” says Caleb Backe, health and wellness correspondent for Maple Holistics. “The caffeine in these teas can interact with blood pressure medication as it can increase heart rate.”
Try These Teas Instead
So, what should you do? “If you feel heart palpitations or other unwanted symptoms after drinking tea, consider switching to green, white, or decaffeinated tea products,” adds Johnson-Arbor. Backe also recommends peppermint. “The best tea to ease heart palpitations is peppermint tea, as it has been shown to have a soothing and calming effect on the mind and body,” he says.
Just remember to check that your next drink of choice doesn’t interact with your medication. Soothing brews like hibiscus tea can cause side effects as well. “Hibiscus tea has the opposite effect and may lower your blood pressure,” says Backe. “Therefore, if you’re taking blood pressure medication, hibiscus tea may make your blood pressure go too low.”
As always, talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing palpitations and want to try out new beverages. A physician will be able to assess your symptoms, run tests if necessary, and offer you suggestions on diet changes. And if you believe those flutters or strange pounding sensations are mainly caused by stress and anxiety, find out how you can reduce stress with gentle exercise and a simple breathing technique.