In case you missed it, last week focused on hosting At Home Happy Hour (including one of my absolute favorite recipes). And it sparked some great questions, especially about alcohol.
So Healthy Happy Hour Part II will be devoted to the controversial topic of alcohol. This is an area many writers shy from, but I feel it is important to share the facts so you can make the best and most educated decision possible.
I want to take a moment and acknowledge people’s comfort and relationship to alcohol vary greatly. We each have our reasons and that is perfectly fine.
My goal is not to change your mind or convince you to start/stop drinking. My goal is to present you with the current evidence and data surrounding alcohol use so you can decide for yourself. Because as I detail, there are two sides to every coin.
The Alcohol Paradox
I suspect you've been exposed to what I call the alcohol paradox. At times, you may read in the news alcohol has heart healthy benefits (hello, red wine). Other times, you may hear alcohol has deleterious effects. So which is true?
Let me explain.
Several studies aimed to determine the health impact of alcohol on heart disease. The verdict is light to moderate alcohol consumption decreases the risk of heart disease by 40 to 70% (more on definitions of light to moderate below). A 40 to 70% decrease is certainly significant.
Alcohol consumption, even moderate, is shown to increase the risk of certain cancers. The more one drinks, the higher the risk. Increased risk of colorectal, oral cavity, liver, and esophagus cancer is linked to alcohol consumption. In women, breast cancer risk increases, even with light alcohol consumption.
Other deleterious effects? Alcohol is associated with increased blood pressure, violence, and suicide rates.
Heavy Drinking and Binge Drinking
Heavy and binge drinking is associated with increased death. Enough said.
Which Type of Alcohol is Best?
There is no current definitive answer to which type of alcohol is best. With the current evidence, it appears wine is associated with the most beneficial effects. However, there is evidence to suggest beer is also beneficial.
Be mindful of mixers that can sabotage your health. Sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and other wellness sabotagers can be hiding in your drinks.
What Defines Light, Moderate, and Heavy Alcohol Intake?
Definitions of alcohol intake categories can vary. The following are general definitions.
And what defines a drink? In the United States, one drink is 14 to 15 g of alcohol. This translates to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor.
To Drink or Not to Drink
The decision to drink is entirely a personal one. You know your personal and family history the best. Combine that with the evidence I provided and you can make an educated decision on whether to drink or to abstain.
The Healthy Happy Hour Drink: With or Without Alcohol
To help you round out your At Home Happy Hour menu, I am providing you with a signature drink recipe. It nicely complements last week’s Perfect Guacamole and 3 Ingredient Tortilla Chips. This one can be made with alcohol or without, to your preference.
GRAPEFRUIT MARGARITA COCKTAIL OR MOCKTAIL (aka with or without alcohol)
1 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp raw organic honey
1 cup ice cubes
EITHER: 1/3 cup tequila (please, please, please don’t skimp on quality) OR 1/2 cup sparkling water/club soda
Coconut or date sugar to rim the glasses
Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and stir well.
Sugar the rims of two glasses. Do this by putting a small amount of coconut or date sugar on a plate. Wet the rim of an empty glass by dipping in water. Then dip the rim into the plate with coconut or date sugar.
Add half the ice to each glass. Pour liquid over the top and serve immediately.
Cheers (with your alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink) and enjoy the holiday weekend!
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