Alcohol: Benefits and Calories

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Dear Leah Renee, 

I am a healthy eater, but I indulge in alcoholic beverages frequently. I’ve heard that a glass of red wine is beneficial to one’s health in moderation…but how much is too much & what are the healthiest options as far as alcohol goes?

A glass of red wine does contain beneficial qualities.  It contains antioxidants (also called flavonoids) such as resveratrol and polyphenols.  Polyphenols, also found in all teas, protect cells and body chemicals against damage caused by free radicals.  Resveratrol is a plant extract, found in the skin of red grapes, which appears to suppress inflammation and may fight aging in humans, according to recent studies.  About 4 ounces of red wine, which is equal to a serving, is a sufficient amount for a woman to consume, double for a man, per day.  Many recent studies show that alcohol alone, when consumed in moderation, improves cardiovascular health.

If you’re counting calories, it’s good to know what you’re working with to keep in mind during a night out with friends.

Wine Folly has a great reference chart for the calorie content of your favorite whites and reds (click the image to zoom):

wine calorie chart

Most of us don’t only stick to just wine all the time.  What’s your poison?

Quick breakdown:

  • The average 12 ounce beer contains around 150 calories, but if you go for a light beer, it can be as low as around 65 calories per bottle.
  • The harder stuff: per 1 ounce, there are roughly 65 calories in Rum, Brandy, Gin, and Tequila while for about 10 more calories you can have 1 ounce of Scotch, Whisky, or Vodka.
  • How you combine your hard alcohol will ultimately affect the amount of calories in the drink.  When pairing them with a diet soda (if you must) or soda water, you’re set since there are zero calories in either (diet soda is another topic entirely).  So if you’re counting calories, steer clear of the margarita and opt for the martini—and remember: moderation!

Drinking tips: 

  • Don’t drink on an empty stomach
  • Stay hydrated (coconut water is great too!)
  • Take your vitamins; B Vitamins, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Zinc especially.  Have a sachet of Amazing Grass similar packet that you can simply add to a glass of water.
  • Random: if you can have asparagus before and after a big night (I know, doesn’t that sound amazing?!), it will help with hangovers!!!!



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