When you're trying to lose weight, it seems as if it's all about what you shouldn't have, especially the empty calories of alcohol. And if, by chance, you sneak a drink in occasionally, you may feel a little guilty.
A recent article takes a new look at some of the health benefits of drinking alcohol—within reason—even when losing weight. In "Wine, Beer or Hard Liquor—Which is Healthier?" nutritionist Emma Deangela assesses the three types of liquor for their pros and cons.
Naturally, if you're under age, use any type of alcohol in excess, have a history of alcohol dependency, or have an allergy or sensitivity to it, you should avoid alcohol completely. Alcohol can contribute to heart disease, liver inflammation, and reproductive problems.
Despite these cons, beer, wine, and hard liquor also have some intriguing benefits to consider.
Although beer is high in calories, it typically has the least amount of alcohol, with 4-6%. Studies indicate that people who drink beer reduce their chance of heart attacks and of developing kidney stones by 40%. Beer also has fiber, improving digestion. Silicon in beer helps with bone density, while vitamin B helps the body combat anemia by making red blood cells.
Wine has more alcohol content than beer, with 8-14%, but both red and white wine can improve your health. Red wine helps relax the blood vessel walls and acts as a natural blood thinner, helping prevent blood clots. It contains antioxidants, which help protect your cells from damage. White wine also contains antioxidants and can protect the body against illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer's disease.
Hard liquors, or distilled spirits, such as brandy, tequila, rum, and whisky, have much more alcohol content, from 40%- 60%, but they are also filled with antioxidants. Other compounds found in hard liquor, such as furan and phenol, promote heart health.
Several studies have borne out this idea that drinking alcohol can promote long-term well being. One study, which looked at men over a 12-year period, found that those who drank beer, wine, or hard liquor every day had a 30-35% less chance of having a heart attack than men who didn't drink alcohol at all. Another study showed that people who drank moderately had a lower rate of type 2 diabetes and stroke.
If you want to reap the most benefits from alcohol while minimizing the risks, a regular glass of red wine after a meal is your best bet. So, the next time you order a drink, think about which ones will benefit you and not derail your efforts to be healthy.