I am often asked about the nutritional constituents of alcoholic beverages and the various pros and cons of different drinks. When it comes to which is the healthiest option, that really depends on the individual. Like most health-related issues there are few principles that apply to everyone all of the time.
However as a general overview of alcoholic drinks, here goes: many studies show that moderate drinking can have health benefits largely because alcohol causes vaso-dilation meaning your blood vessels relax which allows blood pressure to decrease. From a nutritional stand point, red wine comes out tops. It contains potent anti-oxidants called Resveratrols which have been well documented as being beneficial for their anti-clotting and anti-cancer effects. These and other bioflavonoids present in red wine have also been shown to have heart-protecting properties and increase levels of good cholesterol. Beer and cider tend to be higher in calories, partly because greater volumes are drunk, but these drinks do also contain some anti-oxidants and they have higher levels of B vitamins than wine.
All sounding too good to be true? Well, the fact remains that any alcohol is treated as a poison by the body and the liver has a lot of work to do to turn this toxin in to a product that is safe to excrete. So basically, the higher the alcohol content, the worse it is for you.
Also, there are lots of empty calories in alcohol, so if you’re watching your weight, cut down on the booze and if you have blood sugar issues then you have to very careful with alcohol as it affects the way your liver handles glucose.
I certainly recommend that everyone has at least 3 days a week with no alcohol, never binge drink and NEVER, EVER drink alcohol on an empty stomach – it will play havoc with your blood sugar as it will pass very quickly in to your system and it will but a huge burden on your liver. Taken with food, the alcohol passes in to your small intestine much more slowly giving your system time to break it down.
By the way, all those amazing properties found in red wine – well, they all come in tablet form too – Resveratrol is readily available from various supplement companies – so no excuse for getting too carried away with the red wine!