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10 of the Healthiest Alcoholic Drinks

Apr 13, 2022 03:00PM ● By Boitumelo Masihleho
large group of friends dining outdoors enjoying drinks

It's more than understandable to want to kick back with a drink at the end of a long day, especially after you have one of "those days". Nearly 70% of American adults drink each year. While alcohol certainly has some negative health effects, there can also be advantages to moderate consumption. While some forms of alcohol contain a fair number of calories on their own, a big issue in all of this is mixers. Many of the mixers we add to alcoholic drinks are high in sugar and provide no nutritional benefit.

"Calories from alcohol can add up fast," says award-winning registered dietitian nutritionist Christy Brissette. “Because alcohol doesn't provide nutrients or fill you up, these calories are usually in addition to what you're already eating and drinking. Drinking also can make you feel less inhibited, so you're more likely to overeat.” Drinking in moderation can also help you avoid some of alcohol's negative physical effects. If you do drink, there are healthy alcohol choices you can make. Here's what you need to know about the healthiest alcohols.

Red wine

Although originating from fruit, much of the sugar has been converted to alcohol during the fermentation process. With less sugar than beer and far less sugar than flavored ready-made alcoholic bottled drinks, wine is a much better choice. Wines have far fewer additives and your liver won't have to work as hard, adding to the health benefits that you may get from your wine. Nutritionally, there’s not much difference between red wine and white wine, but there are other benefits in choosing a pinot noir over a chardonnay. Go for drier varietals like sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir. These tend to be lower in sugar and calories.


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Tequila with fresh lime juice

Not only is tequila with lime one of the easiest drinks you can make, but it’s also very low in calories. In fact, a shot (42ml) of tequila with a lime wedge has only 99 calories in total. While tequila is still technically classified as a depressant, it's well-known as an "upper." This concept is heavily debated, but there is some evidence in this 2016 study that suggests tequila may not have as severe depressive qualities compared to other alcohols. If drinking tequila straight isn’t for you, you can try mixing in some club soda, mint, or coconut water to make a low calorie cocktail.


The grapes used to make champagne are high in phenolic compounds, a type of antioxidant that can boost brain health and may help reduce the risk of dementia. Brut or extra-brut champagne means “dry,” so there's naturally less sugar in them. A champagne cocktail, by combining a more dry champagne with orange or grapefruit juice will provide a little vitamin C and will also allow you to drink less alcohol for the same size drink.


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Hard kombucha

Kombucha is a beverage made from fermented tea. Kombucha is usually made with tea and sweetened with sugar, which is eaten by the SCOBY, a starter bacteria. Normally, it has an extremely low alcohol content so much that it's not classified as an alcoholic beverage. However, some kombucha makers are now producing hard kombucha, which has an alcohol content similar to beer or hard seltzer. Some brands of hard kombuchas have no sugar, which is great from a health perspective

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Vodka soda

With just 133 calories in a 7.5-ounce (225ml) serving, it’s one of the lowest-calorie mixed drinks you can order. Vodka can improve blood circulation and helps to develop collateral vessels that connect the heart to the lungs. There is a misconception that tonic is the same as soda water but it is in fact a sugar-laden soft drink. “Soda water or club soda is calorie-free since it's just bubbly water,” says nationally known nutrition and wellness expert Cynthia Sass, MPH, MA, RD, CSSD. “It's also a good cocktail mixer because it contains no added sugars or artificial sweeteners. Plus, the bubbles may slow you down so you don't slam the drink.” 


Gin and diet tonic

Gin and tonic is a popular drink that is traditionally made by pouring gin and tonic water over a glass of ice. A gin and tonic can pack up to 142 calories per serving because tonic water is generally made with. However, you can easily decrease the calorie content of this classic cocktail by swapping regular tonic water for diet tonic water, a calorie-free alternative. A gin and diet tonic with 2 ounces (56ml) of gin and 4 ounces (118ml) of diet tonic water provides 128 calories in total. Adding seltzer to a cocktail is always a great choice since it provides zero calories and zero grams of sugar so a G&S lets you get that same bubbly feel and gin taste without all the added calories.

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Light beer

Not all beer will give you a belly. Light beers tend to be around 50 calories less than regular brews. Beers contain several B vitamins, phosphorus, folate, and niacin, and a 12-ounce beer also packs more calcium, magnesium, and selenium, which is a key antioxidant, than a serving of wine. A Corona Light has only 99 calories, compared to the 231 in a Sierra Nevada IPA or the 294 in a Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA.


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Bloody Mary

This drink, containing vodka and tomato juice combined with Worcestershire sauce, tabasco and salt, is a low-calorie option that even has some nutritive value. A good quality tomato juice will provide some antioxidants, mainly lycopene as well as vitamin C and potassium. Adding in more vegetables will provide even more nutrients and fiber. Also, keep an eye out for garnishes and add-ins packed with sodium.


The tangy pink drink, made with grapefruit and lime juice, is like a margarita without the extra calories. It features tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and soda water. This refreshing drink is a lighter alternative to a margarita which is typically made with plenty of agave and/or plenty of sugar-sweetened bar lime. Use fresh grapefruit juice instead of the bottled stuff to save on calories. This drink contains  at least 170 calories.


Hot toddy

For a heartier winter cocktail,  hot toddies are made with scotch or bourbon, hot water, honey, lemon, and a pinch of cinnamon, and contains less than 150 calories. Hot cocktails like the toddy have long been prized as an old-school cold remedy.

Besides alcohol’s famous pain-killing powers such as gargling with whiskey and warm water to numb a sore throat, moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to dilate mucus membranes much in the same way as menthol does. This can help clear infections and whiskey, specifically, also contains the antioxidant ellagic acid, which studies suggest may help treat viral and bacterial infections.




Women’s Health Mag



 Boitumelo Masihleho is a South African digital content creator. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Rhodes University in Journalism and Media Studies and Politics and International Studies. She's an experienced multimedia journalist who is committed to writing balanced, informative and interesting stories on a number of topics. Boitumelo has her own YouTube channel where she shares her love for affordable beauty and lifestyle content. 

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