The Health Benefits of Alcohol
Healthy Hard Alcohol?
Drinking moderate amounts of any kind of alcohol -- be it beer, wine, or hard liquor -- will raise your good HDL cholesterol levels, says Lisa Young, adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University and author of The Portion Teller Plan. "That's a really big benefit to the people who do have cholesterol problems because it is hard to elevate your good cholesterol," she says.
The downside? Drinking all types of alcohol will also increase your risk for certain cancers, such as breast and liver cancer. In fact, a September study showed that women who averaged one to two drinks per day raised their risk for breast cancer by 10 percent, and those who drank three drinks a night raised their risk by as much as 30 percent. Risk for other illnesses, such as heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver, heart muscle damage, and stroke are also correlated with excessive alcohol consumption.
If a woman is pregnant, drinking can also lead to miscarriage or fetal alcohol syndrome in an unborn child, which can impair growth and nervous system development.Calorie Comparison
According to the USDA, a 1.5-ounce shot of 80 proof distilled spirits (gin, rum, vodka, whiskey) contains approximately 96 calories. Calorie counts for mixed drinks vary wildly, clocking in at anywhere from 280 calories for a gin and tonic to over 800 calories for some frozen, creamy drinks. Opt for cocktails made with calorie-free mixers, such as Diet Coke and soda water, which are easier on the waistline.
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