I know, I know, what kind of nutritionist pushes booze? At parties people ask me, "What's the best booze I could choose?" At first I was surprised to be asked at all, but then I got to thinking. It's true, for most of us, this isn't a choice between having a drink or not having a drink. The questions are "What kind of drink?" and "How much?" As one who celebrates baby steps, I will take this trend of small health consciousness and run with it. 'Tis the season to join 'em if you can't beat 'em.
There are benefits to booze, but the recommendation is, and will likely remain, that if you don't drink, don't start. There are still downsides to alcohol consumption. For instance: alcohol is just empty calories; alcohol can cause liver damage. But if you are going to drink, there is evidence that one per day for women, two per day for men can have some positive results.
If you stumble up to me at a party, I am going to tell you that there is nothing you could choose at this point that would be healthy. If you ask me at the start of the night, sober as a judge, here is what I will tell you.
I think your best bet is still red wine.
• It contains resveratrol because it is made with the grape skins where the nutrients hide.
• The antioxidants in red wine skins can help increase high density lipoprotein (a good kind of cholesterol).
• Red wine contains melatonin which is the "sleepy" chemical your brain needs to shut down. If you are a beer lover, go dark.
• Beer has B vitamins (especially B6) which have been shown to help reduce homocysteine. The presence of excessive homocysteine has been connected to heart disease.
• Dark beers also contain xanthohumol, which is a flavonoid that come from hops and has been linked to prostate cancer prevention. That isn't to say you should drink loads of beer to get more, but at least there could be some redeeming quality if and when you do choose beer. Hey, come on, I told you we were splitting hairs here.
I think the real benefit of booze is the fact that it is in your hand while you are chatting with friends. Let's do more of that and less of the boozy bit. Who is with me?