Whether it's at a glass of wine at an after-work happy hour, a celebratory cocktail on your birthday or even a beer with dinner, many of us enjoy a drink every now and again. While the research on alcohol and health has been a little back and forth — especially with a recent study in the journal BMJ citing excess alcohol consumption for as much as 10 percent of cancer cases in men and 3 percent in women — most health professionals agree that when enjoyed in moderation, alcohol does offer some health benefits.
From reducing your risk of developing heart disease, having a heart attack or stroke and possibly reducing your risk of diabetes, one drink a night for women is generally accepted as OK for your health (although not a reason to start drinking if you don't already). Read on for how the following three beverages can help your heart health.
Three Alcoholic Beverages with Health Benefits
1. Red Wine. Five ounces of red wine gives you a healthy dose of antioxidants and resveratrol, which researchers believe is the key ingredient that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduce bad cholesterol and prevent blood clots from forming. Just remember to keep it at one glass of wine for about 150 calories and enjoy with a healthy meal.
2. Guinness. Ever seen the old Guinness ads claiming that Guinness is good for you? Well, turns out it wasn't just smart marketing. It's true! Research shows that a pint a day may work as well as a low dose of aspirin in preventing heart clots that raise the risk of heart attacks. Again, these benefits are only in moderation, so just a pint and no more, ladies!
3. Hard liquor. All kinds of liquor — including the stuff straight from the liquor cabinet — will raise your good HDL cholesterol levels, thereby helping your heart. While a 1.5-ounce shot of 80 proof distilled spirits such as gin, rum, vodka and whiskey have about 100 calories, many times what you mix with it is what can hurt your waistline. So opt for low-calorie or no-calorie mixers or just sip a glass of the really good stuff with a few ice cubes. Again, it's all about portion control!
None of these sound good? Try one of SHAPE's delicious low-calorie cocktail recipes!
Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.