7 Surprising Health Benefits of Different Types of Alcohol

Let’s be real: “Healthy” isn’t necessarily the first word you’d think of to describe alcohol. But whether your drink of choice is a cosmo or a double IPA, there are benefits to sipping in moderation. Here are some of the seriously surprising perks that may come with imbibing your favorite beverages — plus what to keep in mind when ordering another round at the bar.

1. Beer

The Benefits: Who knew brewskis could be so good for your bod? From lowering your risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia to strengthening your bones and lowering your risk for kidney stones, there are plenty of legitimate science-backed reasons to tip back a pint of your favorite brew.

The Fine Print: We hate to break it to you, but all the health benefits of beer go out the window when you have more than a couple drinks. The CDC recommends sticking to one or two beers a day, or it all goes bust.

2. Champagne

The Benefits: Pop, clink, fizz — faster memory? One 2013 animal study found that drinking one to three glasses a week might help improve your memory and delay the onset of degenerative brain disorders, like dementia. That’s because Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, two red grapes used in the production of champagne are high in phenolics compounds, which the researchers believe have brain-boosting benefits.

The Fine Print: If you do decide to pop a bottle, keep in mind that champagne is notorious for its hangovers: The gas from the bubbles speeds up the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream, so sip slowly to avoid going overboard. And always open the bottle away from your face. No one needs a champagne cork injury!

3. Vodka

The Benefits: Vodka could be the ideal drink for your next post-work happy hour. Experts have found it helps relieve stress better than red wine. Who knew? And that vodka and cranberry juice might even help boost creativity, according to one study in the journal Consciousness and Cognition. Researchers found that men who sipped this pink cocktail performed 30 percent better on a word-association test than sober dudes.

The Fine Print: The taste of vodka is easily masked by juices and other mixers, so make sure you know how much liquor is poured into your drink. The National Institutes of Health says one “standard drink” should contain no more than 1.5 fluid ounces of liquor (one-and-a-half shots). Just because you can’t taste it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Plus, be aware that sugary mixers can add tons of extra calories to every sip — and maybe even exacerbate your hangover, too.

4. Gin

“Many people report that drinking tequila makes them act ‘crazy’ or angry. What’s more likely is that your mood affects your choice of drink.”

The Benefits: Your gin likely gets its pine-y flavor from juniper berries, which can act as a diuretic, helping to release extra salt and water from your body — and possibly making you feel less bloated. Those berries are also full of healthy antioxidants that may block free radicals from doing damage to your cells. Plus, they’re oh-so refreshing!

The Fine Print: If you thought the tonic in your G&T was just glorified seltzer water, we’ve got bad news for you. One popular brand of tonic packs 130 calories, 55 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbs and 32 grams of sugar per eight ounce serving — and lists high fructose corn syrup as its second ingredient. (Sparkling seltzer water, on the other hand, contains no calories and is strictly carbonated water.) Go easy on the ‘T’ if you’re watching your calorie intake.

5. Tequila

The Benefits: Aside from making a mean margarita, moderate consumption of tequila might be good for your ticker: Drinking spirits increases levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, which could help lower your risk for heart disease. But be wary of other research you read about tequila — much of it is based off the benefits of agave, found in the plant used to make tequila. Unfortunately, that good-for-you agave doesn’t actually end up in your glass!

The Fine Print: Ever experienced the tequila crazies? While research doesn’t support the idea that different liquors have different emotional or behavioral effects, many people report that drinking tequila makes them act “crazy” or angry. What’s more likely is that your mood affects your choice of drink, experts say. (Today was the worst! Give me a tequila shot!…Sound familiar?) Pay attention to what you order — and how much you consume — on days when you’re already feeling off kilter.

6. Wine

The Benefits: Wine has become the very definition of a ‘guilt-free’ treat — and for good reason. Polyphenols, the antioxidants in red wine, may limit the development and progression of atherosclerosis — plaque build up in your arteries that can lead to heart disease. Plus, one to two glasses a day can increase HDL (aka good) cholesterol by about 12 percent, research shows.

The Fine Print: While experts aren’t quite sure what causes it, the infamous red wine headache some sippers experience could easily ruin a night out. Drink plenty of H20 between glasses to keep headaches (and hangovers) at bay.

7. Whiskey

The Benefits: Wine’s not the only beverage with antioxidants: Whiskey also contains polyphenols and offers up heart-healthy benefits similar to wine, research shows. And while it won’t prevent or cure a cold, a hot whiskey drink can give you some symptom relief, one doc says.

The Fine Print: Like any kind of hard liquor, whiskey packs the same amount of alcohol into a smaller serving than beer or wine. Taking shots can quickly backfire, so opt for a whiskey you enjoy and savor it slowly.

Know Before You Drink

While these benefits all sound great, they’re nothing you can’t attain through exercise and eating right. If you do decide to imbibe, keep it to no more than a couple drinks a night!

7 Health Benefits Of Drinking Alcohol

Getting wasted every weekend might not be the best thing for your physical or mental well-being, but moderate alcohol consumption may have some substantial health benefits. It should be noted that alcohol consumption and its benefits vary based on an individual’s body makeup and type.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, “moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. This definition is referring to the amount consumed on any single day and is not intended as an average over several days.”

Now, we’ve all heard the reasons why alcohol is bad for you, but what about the benefits? Here is our list of seven ways that drinking alcohol in moderation (when you’re of the legal drinking age of course) might benefit your health.

1. It Can Lower Your Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease

The School of Public Health at Harvard University found that “moderate amounts of alcohol raises levels of high-density lipoprotein, HDL, or ‘good’ cholesterol and higher HDL levels are associated with greater protection against heart disease. Moderate alcohol consumption has also been linked with beneficial changes ranging from better sensitivity to insulin to improvements in factors that influence blood clotting….Such changes would tend to prevent the formation of small blood clots that can block arteries in the heart, neck, and brain, the ultimate cause of many heart attacks and the most common kind of stroke.” This finding is applicable to both men and women who have not been previously diagnosed with any type of cardiovascular disease.

2. It Can Lengthen Your Life

Drinking occasionally could add a few years to your life. A study by the Catholic University of Campobasso reported that drinking less than four or two drinks per day for men and women respectively could reduce the risk of death by 18 percent, as reported by Reuters. “Little amounts, preferably during meals, this appears to be the right way (to drink alcohol),” said Dr. Giovanni de Gaetano of Catholic University, another author on the study. “This is another feature of the Mediterranean diet, where alcohol, wine above all, is the ideal partner of a dinner or lunch, but that’s all: the rest of the day must be absolutely alcohol-free.”

3. It Can Improve Your Libido

Contrary to prior beliefs, newer research has found that moderate drinking might actually protect against erectile dysfunction in the same way that drinking red wine might benefit heart disease. In a 2009 study published in the, Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers found that the chances of erectile dysfunction were reduced by 25 to 30 percent among alcohol drinkers. The lead researcher, Kew-Kim Chew, an epidemiologist at the University of West Australia, conducted the study with 1,770 Australian men. In his study, Chew cautiously noted that he and his team in no way are advising men to hit the bottle, and that further research is needed to accurately connect impotence and alcohol consumption.

4. It Helps Prevent Against the Common Cold

The Department of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University found that while susceptibility to the common cold was increased by smoking, moderate alcohol consumption led to a decrease in common cold cases for nonsmokers. This study was conducted in 1993 with 391 adults. In 2002, according to the New York Times, Spanish researchers found that by drinking eight to 14 glasses of wine per week, particularly red wine, one could see a 60-percent reduction in the risk of developing a cold. The scientists suspected that this had something to do with the antioxidant properties of wine.

5. It Can Decrease Chances Of Developing Dementia

In a study that included more than 365,000 participants since 1977, as reported in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, moderate drinkers were 23 percent less likely to develop cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. “Small amounts of alcohol might, in effect, make brain cells more fit. Alcohol in moderate amounts stresses cells and thus toughens them up to cope with major stresses down the road that could cause dementia,” said Edward J. Neafsey, Ph.D., co-author of the study, as reported by Science Daily. “We don’t recommend that nondrinkers start drinking,” Neafsey said. “But moderate drinking — if it is truly moderate — can be beneficial.”

6. It Can Reduce The Risk Of Gallstones

Drinking two units of alcohol per day can reduce the risk of gallstones by one-third, according to researchers at the University of East Anglia. The study found that those who reported consuming two UK units of alcohol per day had a one-third reduction in their risk of developing gallstones. “Researchers emphasized that their findings show the benefits of moderate alcohol intake but stress that excessive alcohol intake can cause health problems,” according to the study.

7. Lowers The Chance Of Diabetes

Results of a Dutch study showed that healthy adults who drink one to two glasses per day have a decreased chance of developing type 2 diabetes, in comparison to those who don’t drink at all. “The results of the investigation show that moderate alcohol consumption can play a part in a healthy lifestyle to help reduce the risk of developing diabetes type 2,” researchers said in a statement to Reuters.