When it comes to alcohol, the word “healthy” isn’t the first word that comes to mind. After all, too much alcohol can cause an array of health problems, including everything from liver cancer to dementia. Some types of alcohol, though, are good for you. Here are seven of the healthiest alcoholic beverages you can enjoy – in moderation, of course.
Beer tops the list of the healthiest alcoholic beverages. Though it’s packed with calories, certain types of beer or stouts that are low in calories and carbs – such as Guinness, surprisingly – are quite healthy in moderation. They typically contain fewer calories than their cheaper (read: more popular in the US and Canada) countertypes, including Budweiser and Heineken. If you’re going to have a beer, have a dark one.
Red wine is another example of the healthiest alcoholic beverages, but only if you choose the right red wines. For example, you’ll want to avoid super-sweet versions like most Moscato options, and be sure you check the label before you pour a glass of anything considered “red table wine”, as these usually have a high sugar content, too. A glass of Burgundy or even a pinot noir is always a great low-sugar and low-calorie option, but be aware that the less sugar in your wine, the higher the alcohol content.
Sangria is a type of wine typically made from fruit. Traditionally, it’s made by soaking fruits like peaches, pears, and sometimes even melons or pineapples in white wine, sugar, and even brandy. The alcohol absorbs nutrients from the fruits, but unfortunately, the addition of sugar nullifies this with extra calories. Try making your own sangria sans sugar by chopping some of your favorite fruits and then dousing them with a low-sugar white wine. Let this sit in the fridge for a few hours to really get that fruity taste.
There’s nothing better than a Bloody Mary to satisfy your cravings for something vegetal with a bit of a “kick”, but the traditional beverage has a few unhealthy additives. For example, commercially-prepared tomato juice contains an unfathomable amount of sodium, which is bad news if you have (or if you’re at risk for) high blood pressure. Make your own with homemade tomato juice, or at least a low-sodium version without added sugar. Just add some horseradish, a squeeze of lemon, and some celery along with your shot of vodka.
A mimosa is a champagne and orange juice cocktail that’s a brunch favorite. However, bottled orange juice is high in sugar, and this can make your drink far too fattening. If you’re in the mood for a mimosa, make it one of the healthiest alcoholic beverages of them all by making it with your own fresh-squeezed orange juice. There’s no extra sugar, and the taste is divine.
White wine is another great option for anyone who wants to enjoy a drink or two without the fattening repercussions. Just like red wine, it’s important to remember the number one rule: the less sugar, the more alcohol. Look for types of white wine that are known for having very little sugar, such as many chardonnays or even a pinot grigio. Some Riesling wines are also quite low in sugar, though others are heavily sweetened. In general, check the alcohol content. If it’s 12% or above, it contains lower amounts of sugar.
Last, but most certainly not least, a Tom Collins is a go-to favorite that you can make without extra calories. Traditionally, it’s a lot like spiked lemonade. It contains gin, sugar, club soda, and lemon juice, but you can skip the sugar. In a glass, combine a shot of gin, some fresh lemon juice, and some seltzer, instead. This contains less sugar and fewer calories.
The healthiest alcoholic beverages are low-sugar red wines and dark beers like Guinness, which contain vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants that can actually protect your health. Aside from these, it’s possible to make any alcoholic beverage healthier by reducing or removing the sugary components from the recipes.