Serving up antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
We’ve all heard about the health benefits of wine. In fact, many of us may sneak in another glass of red because it’s good for us -- we’re protecting against heart disease and getting a good dose of antioxidants, OK?
Cocktails, on the other hand, have been labeled the bad guys at the bar. Laden with calories, these creamy, sugary confections go smoothly down the hatch and straight to the gut and hips. Yes, it’s true that they have higher alcohol content and calorie counts than wine and beer, but let’s not forget that many cocktails contain much of the good stuff too.
Freshly squeezed fruit juices, vegetables, herbs, spices and egg whites can all be found in a glass near you. You only need to take a glance at the history books to see how key ingredients for many drinks -- such as gin and Angostura bitters -- were used for medicinal purposes. And just last week, we gave you a few reasons Why Spirits Can Be Good for You.
While we’re certainly not saying you should throw away any meds and seek a cure-all in a cocktail, or stretch cocktail hour into the wee small hours (at The Spirit we are all about drinking responsibly -- quality over quantity every time), it is time to fight against the bad-guy reputation of cocktails. So, let’s raise a long-deserved toast to a few ways cocktails can be good for you.
1. It’s fruit served straight up
An obvious one to start with, but fruit is a big factor in the health and taste stakes. The juices from strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, oranges, limes, lychees, kiwifruit, peaches, pineapples and more are rich with vitamins and minerals, and that can go some way to helping you reach your RDI of nine half-cup servings of fruit and veggies.
You might think that adding alcohol to fruit would cancel out the healthful effects. In fact, a 2008 study by researchers from the Kasetsart University in Thailand and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Research Service showed that adding ethanol, the type of alcohol in spirits including rum, vodka and tequila, boosts the antioxidants in colored fruit (is there any fruit that isn’t colored?). And cocktail lovers have this one over wine drinkers: why enjoy just one type of fruit in your glass?
2. BYO health benefits
The beauty of cocktails, like life, is that you get out what you put in. So, mix in your own tasty health benefits, then blend, shake or stir, and serve. For example, splash in some pure coconut water for an instant dose of electrolytes, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. The water is an isotonic solution that replaces the fluids and minerals that the body loses during physical activities, so it’s no wonder the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations took out a patent to bottle it as a sports drink. (Apparently, during the Pacific War of 1941-45, coconut water was drained directly from the nut to give emergency plasma transfusions to wounded soldiers!)
Or brew up some green tea and pour in antioxidants that fight heart disease and cancer. Green tea is said to help lower cholesterol, prevent diabetes and stroke, and stave off dementia. You can also infuse tea leaves in a spirit -- gin or vodka work best -- for an hour to days for a full-flavor effect.
3. Cocktails can help you live longer
Researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, and Stanford University just released study results that showed having two or three glasses of wine, beer or cocktails per day helped older adults live longer than teetotalers.
This is in line with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s extensive research, which reports that moderate drinking is beneficial to heart health, resulting in a decrease in heart disease risk of 40-60%. Moderate drinkers are also less likely to suffer heart attacks strokes, hypertension, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease and colds. We'll toast to that!