Are Some Types of Alcohol ‘Healthier’ than Others?

When it comes to drinking alcohol, it’s important to remember that no alcoholic drink can be considered healthy. The consumption of alcohol is associated with various long-term and short-term health risks, which encompass a wide range of potential dangers. These risks can include, but are not limited to:

  • Aggression and violence.
  • Cancer.
  • Complications in pregnancies.
  • Depression.
  • Heart disease.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Liver disease.
  • Motor vehicle crashes.
  • Sexual risk behaviors.
  • Stomach bleeding.
  • Stroke.
  • Worsening of existing health conditions.

Each of these risks, and all other risks associated with drinking alcohol, increase the more you drink.

However, if you do choose to consume alcohol, some options are potentially healthier than others. Just make sure to drink in moderation.

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Health Benefits of Wine

Red wine and its health benefits have been known since the ancient Romans. The components in the grapes that make red wines can help with many diseases and conditions.

One of the most notable components of wine is its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are compounds found in many plants and vegetables that fight off free radicals in your body.

These antioxidant properties in wine can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and even some cancers.

Health Benefits of Beer

Studies have also found that beer consumption can potentially improve certain health conditions. Potential benefits of moderate beer consumption in adults over 21 include:

  • Improvements in vascular elasticity.
  • Increased bone mineral density (BMD).
  • Lower risk of diabetes in men.

The exact amount of beer that might allow someone to notice these benefits is unknown. It is also recommended to eat food when drinking a moderate amount of beer.

What Is Drinking in Moderation?

Limiting the amount of alcohol that you drink can have significant improvements on your health. For adults who are of the legal drinking age, drinking in moderation means:

  • Men should limit alcohol consumption to two drinks or less in a day.
  • Women should consume one drink or less in a day.

The amount of alcohol in different types of beverages varies. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

defines an alcoholic drink as containing 14 grams (0.6 fluid ounces) of pure alcohol. These are the measurements that equate to one drink of the following different types of alcoholic beverage and the amount of alcohol by volume (or ABV) they include:

  • Beer: 12 fluid ounces, contains 5% ABV.
  • Distilled spirits (40 proof): 1.5 fluid ounces, contains roughly 40% ABV
  • Malt liquor: 8 fluid ounces, contains 7% ABV.
  • Wine: 5 fluid ounces, contains 12% ABV.

It’s important to note that the amount of alcohol in a specific drink can vary, and these measurements serve as general estimates.

There may be variations in the health effects of different types of alcoholic beverages. But it is crucial to understand that consuming even moderate amounts of alcohol carries its own set of risks. The healthiest option is to avoid alcoholic beverages altogether.

Certain groups of people should not drink at all. Those include:

  • People who are pregnant or might be pregnant.
  • People who are under age 21.
  • People who are recovering from alcohol use disorders or who cannot control the amount they drink.
  • People who have certain health conditions or who are on certain medications that can interact with alcohol.

If you are concerned about your drinking habits or displaying signs of alcohol use disorder, you should contact a health care provider right away.

About UPMC

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.