With Cinco de Mayo right around the corner, you as a Mom-o may be thinking about margaritas (or maybe you’re just in it for the chips and salsa). Either way, covering the good, bad, and ugly on alcohol is beneficial for everyone.
Alcohol, in theory, offers no nutritional value and is metabolized and stored as fat. In addition to adding to your waistline, it inhibits vitamin and mineral absorption, fries your brain, disrupts your sleep, slows muscle growth, causes dehydration and so much more. However, let’s consider most of you reading this aren’t still binge drinking and are just looking for a good time at Moms Night Out or a way to unwind when the littles hit the hay. There are some health benefits to alcohol—as long as you keep it in moderation and choose your beverage wisely.
It’s no secret that red wine gets a reputation for being heart healthy. It has higher levels of antioxidants than white wine and some research has shown that it can lead to higher good cholesterol levels and a lower risk of heart disease. Red wine may have more calories than white (due to its higher alcohol content), but typically it is a healthier choice than white.
Rosé, champagne, and other dessert wines tend to have higher sugar levels and less antioxidants. Save these for celebrations. And if you have leftover champagne, InStyle magazine suggests using it as a toner on your face. Not every day, but maybe as a pick me up after your party before recycling the bottle.
Whether you’re a white girl or a red girl, keeping your glass to an appropriate serving size is key. A glass of wine is generally 5 ounces—that’s just over a half of cup. If that’s less than your usual pour, try slowing down and savoring every sip. Keep a glass of water handy, too so that if you feel thirsty, you’re not resorting to wine to keep you hydrated.
Beer doesn’t always come across as glamorous, however the Mayo Clinic suggests there is research that all alcohol has been shown to be heart healthy, not just red wine. So if you’re more into beer, don’t feel too guilty. It can also help with milk production for nursing moms and some studies have even shown it to slow the development of dementia. And if you’re watching your calories, there are plenty of light beers out there that don’t lack in flavor. Just like with wine though, it’s imperative to stick to a serving size which is 12 ounces of the ice-cold stuff (in other words, a bottle or small can).
Perhaps your drinking tastes are even finer than beer and wine and you’re into the hard stuff. If this is the case, tequila, whiskey, and gin may be some of the better options. Mexican researchers claim the sugar in tequila doesn’t raise blood sugar, people believe whiskey can thwart off the common cold, and it’s been said gin can relieve achy joints. As long as it’s not everclear or moonshine, you can probably call it safe as long as you keep it to the 1.5 ounce serving size.
If you’re going to drink, it’s best to avoid mixed drinks altogether. Think of beer as a piece of dark chocolate and a mixed drink as a piece of chocolate cake. There’s a lot of sugar (or even worse, artificial sweeteners), artificial flavors, and chemicals in mixed drinks and you really can’t control what you’re getting. Vodka and water (or any spirit mixed with water) is a mindful choice. Add some lime and you will not only consume less calories and sugar than a mixed drink, but you’ll drink it much slower than you would a shot of the same spirit.
With all this being said, don’t let any of this information make you believe alcohol is healthy. Alcohol provides no energy, fiber, protein, or anything necessary for your survival (except maybe your sanity). Alcohol consumption has its risks. And in theory alcohol provides 100 to 150 empty calories in each serving, so if you’re watching your weight, think of alcohol as a treat. However, if you do knowingly indulge from time to time, let this information guide you on the “healthiest” choices while keeping serving sizes in the forefront of your mind. Women should have no more than one drink per day—if you’re going to drink, do it wisely, in moderation, and stay hydrated with good old H2O.