Alcohol: Health in a Bottle

by admin on January 22, 2005 · 0 comments

Over the last few months many of you have asked us about alcohol. Here are our answers.

Is drinking alcohol healthy for me?

Yes and no. There is no question that too much leads to trouble. Alcohol acts as a depressant in the brain and central nervous system. It damages cells and increases the risk for cancer in the digestive tract. Over time, alcohol abuse seriously harms the liver. The organs and brains of unborn babies are affected by their mother’s drinking habits. And, women who regularly drink increase their risk for breast cancer.

But those who drink moderately have less risk for heart disease. Research has shown that red wine contains a substance called resveratrol. Its impressive list of health benefits includes preventing cancer, reducing blood clots, lowering blood pressure, and possibly slowing aging. And, postmenopausal women who have a few drinks weekly have stronger bones than women who do not drink.

Bottom line: If you drink moderately, you may receive some small health benefits. But don’t start in hopes of preventing disease.

If vodka has no protein, fat or carbohydrate, why does it have calories?

Liquors such as vodka, gin, scotch, and whiskey contain alcohol calories.

One gram of alcohol = 7 calories. One gram of fat = 9 calories. Protein and carbohydrate have 4 calories/gram. Mixed drinks, wine and beer have some carbohydrate calories along with alcohol calories. A drink or two a day may be why some people have trouble maintaining their weight.


Drink Size Calories
Beer 12 ounces 150
Light Beer 12 ounces 100
White Wine 5 ounces 115
Red Wine 5 ounces 110
Liquor 1.25 ounces 80

When you use wine in cooking, does the alcohol burn off?

It’s a common misconception that alcohol used in cooking doesn’t reach the dinner table.

If red wine is added to a pot roast and cooked for over 2 hours, 5% of the alcohol still remains. When items are flamed in alcohol, like cherries jubilee, 75% of the brandy remains. If wine is used to deglaze a pan, boiling it for a few minutes, 85% of the alcohol remains. Bake fish in sherry for 30 minutes and over one-third of the alcohol is still there when the fish is served.

Bottom line: Don’t use alcohol in cooking if: you or someone in your family is taking a medication that prohibits its use; there is history of alcohol dependence; or the dish will be eaten by pregnant women or small children

Why is a woman affected by alcohol more quickly than a man?

This is a classic case of sex counts. Women are generally smaller than men, with more body fat and less muscle. Alcohol is diluted into water-holding muscles, not into fat tissue, and women have less of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol. So, alcohol builds up faster, is broken down more slowly and stays in a woman’s body longer.

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