If you imbibe, you probably have a go-to alcoholic beverage to enhance every occasion: mimosas to complement Sunday brunch, beer to make happy hours happier, wine for unwinding, vodka to fuel karaoke bravery and margaritas to wash down your enchiladas. But what do you really know about the booze you drink? Turns out, some of our favorite spirits, liquors, and other alcoholic beverages are actually pretty beneficial to our wellbeing. From heart-healthy vodka to sex life-enhancing beer, here are seven drinks to order at your next happy hour! Just remember to always drink alcohol in moderation, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
1 Beer enhances your sex life and your brain.
Let’s hear it for beer! This refreshing combo of barley, hops, water and yeast has a wealth of unexpected benefits. In her book, “The Married Sex Solution: A Realistic Guide to Saving Your Sex Life,” certified sex therapist and licensed marriage and family therapist Kat Van Kirk, Ph.D., writes about beer’s sex life-boosting powers. According to Dr. Van Kirk, the high amount of iron in porters and stouts increases blood circulation to the penis, which is ideal for an erection. Additionally, beer can hinder premature ejaculation and increase sexual stamina.
But beer is beneficial beyond the sheets, too — in one study, Science Daily researchers tested a compound found in hops called xanthohumol and discovered that it could protect brain cells from damage and potentially help slow the development of brain disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
2 Vodka is heart-healthy.
It’s the clear spirit that mixes well with everything from ginger beer and lime in Moscow mules to tomato juice in bloody marys — not to mention that, per the National Institute of Health (NIH), it’s less likely to give you a hangover due to its lack of congeners (toxic chemicals formed in small amounts when alcohol is produced). Here’s even better news: A study published in the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Circulation journal says that vodka could have the sameheart-health benefits as red wine. In the study, pigs were given pinot noir, vodka or no alcohol. The pigs given wine or vodka had a significant increase in blood flow to the heart and good HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels. The conclusion? Wine and vodka increased capillary density, which means more oxygen could be delivered through the blood.
3 Gin improves circulation.
Once used as a cure for malaria, gin has a rich history of medical benefits. What makes it so potent? According to Business Insider, the juniper berries in gin can prevent heart disease and improve blood circulation. Tanya Zuckerbrot, M.S., RD, dietician and founder of the F-Factor Diet, elaborates, “Gin does contain antioxidants, known as flavonoids, which can help fight cardiovascular disease, but wine is significantly more cardioprotective.”
Maple Holistics health and wellness expert Caleb Backe adds, “Gin, in moderation, is also known for its ability to help stop water retention in your body — which can be beneficial for your liver and kidney health because it prevents the buildup of toxins in your vital organs. Obviously, drinking too much will have the opposite effect, as the alcohol will weaken the organs ability to process or flush out toxins.”
4 Tequila elevates your energy.
A product distilled from the blue agave plant, this liquor is the magic ingredient in margaritas and an instant icebreaker in shot form. But why does tequila seem like the wild card of spirits? According to Los Angeles mixologist BC Hoffman, who is also beverage director at The Edison and chef instructor at Sur La Table, “Tequila, made from 100 percent blue agave — as long as it’s not a blend — is actually a stimulant. So, it can increase energy and vigor. All other alcohols are depressants.”
And 100 percent blue agave tequila isn’t just a mood booster. Because tequila is a prebiotic (meaning that it nourishes the good bacteria in your large bowel and colon), Medical Daily suggests that drinking it can also be beneficial to your digestive health. The agave plant contains high levels of inulin, which is a substance known to help grow good bacteria.
5 Rum boosts bone density.
Mai tais, mojitos, daiquiris, pina coladas. If you love drinking these delicious rum drinks (in moderation, of course) — or simply sipping on a rum and Coke — they may not be that bad for you, according to the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health. A study found that drinking rum in moderation can increase mineral density in bones, helping to prevent osteoporosis and alleviating arthritis.
6 Whiskey fights cancer.
It’s been the topic of numerous country songs, the drink of choice for celebs like Frank Sinatra and Marvel’s Jessica Jones’ boozy way to combat her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). So what makes this distilled, fermented grain-mash alcoholic beverage so great? One health benefit, according to whiskey-industry consultant Jim Swan, is that “Whiskey helps fight cancer.” Registered dietician Tanya Zuckerbrot, M.S., RD, elaborates: “Whiskey has many of the same phenol compounds found in wine, which have antioxidant properties. And ellagic acid, one of those phenol compounds, can actually prevent the proliferation, or uncontrolled growth, of cancer cells.” Bonus points — whiskey also has strong antibacterial properties, making it a germaphobe’s dream drink.
7 Rosé protects against heart disease.
This fashionably pink wine has exploded in popularity over the past year — especially amongst millennials — primarily due to social media exposure. So where does rosé fit into the “a glass of wine a day may be good for you” spectrum? Well, rosé wines are made with mostly red grapes or a mix of red and white grapes — which means they have more resveratrol than white wines, but not as much as reds. Tanya Zuckerbrot M.S., RD, explains, “Resveratrol is a polyphenol, which is a micronutrient that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Studies have shown that resveratrol is protective against cardiovascular disease and cancer.” The popular wine has also been shown tobring down bad cholesterol — and at around 82 calories for a five-ounce glass, it’s a great, low-cal option.