~by Regan Jones, RD
It's New Year's Eve and beverages are all the buzz... both literally and figuratively. But where your party beverage of choice falls on the spectrum of what's healthy and what's not, is a topic that's not easy to order up an answer for. While drinking alcohol in moderation is often cited as having some health benefits, most health experts agree it's not risk free.
It's true that drinking alcohol may be associated with heart health, but too much or too frequent alcohol consumption may actually increase risk of certain health and behavioral problems. Specifically for women, excess alcohol consumption is often mentioned as a risk factor for breast cancer.
The good news, though, is that all drinks are not created equally. Understanding both the serving size and the alcohol content of your drink is the first step to making a smarter, healthier choice. Last fall, I attended an educational dinner hosted by The Beer Institute while attending The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Expo (Click here to learn more about The Academy's recommendations on Drinking Responsibly). What I learned at that dinner changed my way of thinking about what equals "one drink." So often, we say 1 beer = 1 glass of wine = 1 shot of liquor.
But the reality is the % alcohol by volume in a drink can vary greatly -- with beers ranging from 4% in a light beer to 9% for high-gravity beers. And wines can vary as well -- with sparkling and white wines having as little as 11% alcohol compared with some reds at more than 14%. Understanding these differences is key to assessing how much that "one drink" actually is in terms of your overall alcohol consumption. In other words, "a couple" of glasses of 15% Cabernet isn't the same as "a couple" of 4% beers. If you do the math, it's nearly 4 times as much alcohol overall. This can make a big difference not only tonight, but throughout the year whenever you choose to drink.
If all this talk of percents and serving sizes feels like a buzzkill, it shouldn't. Knowledge is the key to making smarter and healthier decisions. There's room for all types of alcoholic beverages in a healthy diet, but it's important to understand how what you're sipping really stacks up. Smarter sipping is something we can all toast to for the New Year!
While a carefully selected glass of bubbly may be your favorite way to toast the New Year tonight, I'm hoping 2017 brings plenty of opportunities to celebrate good happenings in my life and yours.
Here are some of our previous fave cocktail recipes from Healthy Aperture bloggers. Hope you enjoy them... cheers!
Clementine Margarita via The Cookie Rookie
Skinny Strawberry Margarita via Peanut Butter & Peppers
Earls Pineapple Ginger Margarita via Noshing With The Nolands
Mango Coconut Margarita via Running To The Kitchen
Sparkling Cranberry Sangria via The Wholesome Dish
Honey Ginger Rum Peach Cocktail via kumquat
Cherry Bourbon Old Fashioned via Munchin with Munchkin
Want more fun drink inspiration, check out Cooking Light's 35 Top-Rated Cocktails.
Confused about alcohol recommendations? Find out the scoop and get some healthy cocktail recipes on @HealthyAperture Tweet this