Whiskey is a fermented beverage that typically has about 40% of alcohol. This popular beverage is said to have many social and psychological benefits and is often considered a social tonic. It is a drink that most people choose to distress or relax after a long day at work. But as with most things, moderation is advised. Whiskey, in the right amounts, might offer some health benefits.
In this article, you will learn about the health benefits of whiskey, its nutrient profile, how much you can drink, and its adverse effects. Keep reading.
What Makes Whiskey Different From Other Drinks?
Whiskey, bourbon, and scotch are all similar drinks but have different tastes. But, while all scotch and bourbon are whiskeys, not all whiskeys are scotch or bourbon. The processes and containers make a difference here.
Whiskey is made with mash from grains like corn, wheat, barley, and rye. It is then allowed to age in charred white oak barrels. However, it cannot age after it is bottled.
Bourbon has at least 51% corn content and is aged only in new smoked oak barrels for at least two years. On the other hand, scotch is made in Scotland with only water and barley and is allowed to age for at least three years. Some producers age scotch for up to ten years to enhance its flavor.
What nutrients does whiskey have? Let us take a look at them in the following section.
Nutritional Profile Of Whiskey
Two fl oz. (around 60 ml) of whiskey contains (1):
|Vitamins C, B1, B2, B3, B5, and A||Trace|
Whiskey may not be replete with all the nutrients, but it still may offer some health benefits. Let us explore the eight health benefits of whiskey in the following section.
Health Benefits Of Whiskey
1. May Help Lower Cholesterol Levels
Dr. Anthony Puopolo, Chief Medical Officer of Rex MD, says, “Whiskey contains high levels of polyphenols (plant-derived antioxidants) that enter alcohol during fermentation. These antioxidants help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and increase good cholesterol (HDL) levels.”
Besides, drinking phenolic-containing alcoholic beverages may also enhance the antioxidant capacity of blood plasma (2).
2. May Benefit Your Heart Health
Research suggests that higher antioxidant levels may help reduce the risk of coronary artery disease (2). In addition, these antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress, which is a major cause of heart disease (3). Research also suggests that the ellagic acid in whiskey may help transport cholesterol from plaque areas and reduce the risk of heart disease (4).
Another study linked low to moderate intake of alcohol with the strongest reduction in adverse cardiovascular outcomes (5).
3. May Improve Blood Sugar Levels
Whiskey has a lower glycemic index (it contains slow-digesting carbohydrates). A study suggests that consuming moderate amounts of alcohol may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes (6). However, binge drinking has the opposite effect.
Dr. Daniel Boyer from Farr Institute says, “Moderate whiskey consumption may lower your risk of developing diabetes by up to 40% because it makes the body properly regulate insulin and glucose levels. Controlling your blood sugar levels lowers the risk of developing diabetes.”
4. May Aid In Digestion
Whiskey is a strong alcoholic beverage. Therefore, a drink of alcohol after a meal may help stimulate digestion (7).
“Taking whiskey after consuming a giant portion meal that may result in stomach upsets may help ease your stomach. It does that by stimulating your stomach enzymes since it is high-proof,” remarks Dr. Boyer.
5. May Help Clear Your Sinuses
Research suggests that alcohol, in moderate amounts, can clear sinuses and reduce the congestion in your airways (8). A hot toddy (with hot water, honey, lemon juice, and a shot of whiskey) is believed to help when you are down with a cold.
6. May Help Reduce Cancer Risk
Whiskey contains ellagic acid (a polyphenol) that attacks cancerous cells. The acid inhibits the proliferation of tumor cells, induces apoptosis (cell death), and breaks DNA-carcinogen binding. It also blocks virus infection and disturbs inflammation and other processes required for tumor growth (9).
“Ellagic acid may absorb rogue cells (rare cells with multiple chromosomes in the body) when combined with other forms of medical treatments,” says Dr. Boyer.
However, more specific research is warranted to understand the effects of whiskey on cancerous cells.
7. May Lower Obesity Risk
Studies show that ellagic acid directly affects fatty (adipose) tissues and reduces inflammation. In addition, this acid is an antioxidant that works by reducing fat production at the cellular level. This way, there is lesser fat deposition on your tissues, which may help reduce the risk of obesity.
Growing evidence suggests that ellagic acid may reduce obesity-mediated metabolic complications like insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and atherosclerosis (4).
8. May Reduce Risk Of Developing Dementia
Studies show that older adults who consumed up to six alcoholic drinks per week had a lower risk of developing dementia (10). More direct studies on whiskey are warranted in this regard.
On the other hand, older adults who consumed more than 14 drinks per week reported the most severe cognitive decline compared to those who had less than one drink a week (11).
While moderate whiskey intake may offer you these benefits, consuming it in excess may have serious side effects. Keep reading to know more.
Side Effects Of Excess Whiskey Intake
Excess whiskey intake (or any form of alcohol) may increase the risk of addiction (12). “Alcohol is known for calming your nerves. It increases dopamine production in your body and makes you feel relaxed,” says Dr. Rose. But the craving for alcohol increases if the body gets used to increased dopamine levels (13).
Excess intake of alcohol may also increase the risk of heart disease (14). It may also increase blood sugar levels and cause diabetes (6). Besides, drinking more than one drink per day was linked to cognitive decline and dementia (10). One’s liver also sustains the earliest tissue injury from excessive drinking, which may even lead to liver cirrhosis (15).
How much whiskey is safe to drink every day? Which part of the day is best to consume it? Keep scrolling to find out.
The Right Whiskey Limit
As stated above, moderate consumption (one glass per day) of whiskey is recommended to reap its benefits. Moreover, the best time to drink whiskey would be after an evening supper, as digestion slows down at night. Whiskey could also be a good option if you have a big meal at any time of the day and think you need a digestif to help (provided you weigh your options right).
The Bottom Line
Whiskey is a fermented beverage that seems to offer important benefits if consumed in moderation. It is rich in phenols and has antioxidant properties that have a protective effect against many diseases. Drinking this beverage with caution may help reduce cholesterol levels, promote heart health, manage blood sugar levels, and reduce the risk of obesity and dementia. However, the same whiskey may increase the risk of all these diseases if consumed in excess. Hence, limit its intake to one drink a day for the desired results. Do consult your doctor for more clarity in this regard.
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- Alcoholic beverage whiskey sour
- The effect of whiskey and wine consumption on total phenol content and antioxidant capacity of plasma from healthy volunteers
- Antioxidants inflammation and cardiovascular disease
- Improvements in Metabolic Health with Consumption of Ellagic Acid and Subsequent Conversion into Urolithins: Evidence and Mechanisms
- Alcohol and cardiovascular health: the dose makes the poison…or the remedy
- Alcohol and type 2 diabetes: A review
- DISCUSSION ON THE VALUE OF ALCOHOL AS A THERAPEUTIC AGENT
- Alcohol and Airways Function in Health and Disease
- Research progress on the anticarcinogenic actions and mechanisms of ellagic acid
- Prospective study of alcohol consumption and risk of dementia in older adults
- Alcohol Consumption and Risk of Dementia and Cognitive Decline Among Older Adults With or Without Mild Cognitive Impairment
- Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder
- Alcohol and Dopamine
- Alcohol’s Effects on the Cardiovascular System
- Alcoholic Liver Disease: Pathogenesis and Current Management
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