Drink Right with Rouses by Esther, Rouses Dietitian S ince moving to the French Quarter, I’ve seen—and heard— my fair share of drinkers. Most nights I fall asleep to a chorus of “woohoos” and “yeeeaaahs” outside my window. It’s become my own special New Orleans lullaby. Research has shown that drinking alcohol may have health benefits. Before you start pouring shots, or order another Hand Grenade or Hurricane, know that alcohol consumption in moderation can be beneficial, but too much can be harmful. Sorry to be a buzz kill. Alcohol in moderation means one serving of alcohol a day for women and two servings a day for men. According to the National Institutes of Health, one standard drink, or one serving in the U.S., contains 14 grams of alcohol, which you’ll find in the following serving sizes: 12 fluid ounces of regular beer; 8-9 fluid ounces of malt liquor; 5 fluid ounces of wine; 1.5 fluid ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits (gin, rum, tequila, whiskey, vodka, etc.) Moderate consumption is thought to help raise “good”cholesterol,or HDL cholesterol. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol are associated with lower risks of heart attack. Moderate consumption has also been linked to better blood clotting functions, which could help decrease incidence of heart attack or stroke. Studies have shown that moderate drinkers are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes or gallstones than non-drinkers. Increased insulin sensitivity is a benefit linked to moderate alcohol consumption, which could explain why moderate drinkers are less likely to develop diabetes. If you think you can skip the drinks during the week and save all seven to 14 for one day, bad idea, as the frequency also plays a role. Moderate consumption of alcohol over the course of the week has shown benefits, whereas binge drinking has more health risks. Don’t worry if you aren’t a drinker. If you don’t drink alcohol, the NIH doesn’t recommend you start.

If you’re going to mix it, I’d have to request you at least get a serving of fruit from the ordeal and mix it with 100% fruit juice of some kind— not cranberry cocktail or any of the fake stuff.And no, vodka does not count as a vegetable since it comes from potatoes (and yes, someone has actually asked me that before). The 100% juice mixers will also help slow the rate of alcohol absorption compared to carbonated mixers, which are proven to absorb quicker. If you still want to mix with soda and think you’re doing yourself a favor by mixing with diet soda, you could be wrong. One negative effect of mixing with diet soda is that it will get you drunk even quicker. Studies have found that the sugar in alcohol mixers may slow down the absorption of alcohol in your bloodstream. In one instance, it was a matter of being over or under the legal limit—those who drank one drink with diet soda were over the legal limit when given a breathalyzer test when compared to those who mixed with a regular soda. Want another tip to prevent fast alcohol absorption? Never, ever drink on an empty stomach, and try to drink one glass of water between every alcoholic drink—this will also help prevent hangovers. Wine lovers, you’re looking at a few more calories per serving than spirit drinkers. According to the USDA, a serving of red wine (5 ounces) will cost you an average of 125 calories and white wine will be slightly less at 121 calories per serving. I’m a beer girl myself. Unfortunately, beer can be full of calories. Beer is usually made from water, grain, hops, and yeast, so already we’ve got more in our glass than the straight up drinker. An average beer can run around 150 calories, but the good news is that some light beers, such as Budweiser Select are as low as 55 calories. The bad news is that the lighter beers usually have lower alcohol content and less flavor, which can lead to drinking even more. Beer also gets a lot of credit for big bellies, but it isn’t necessarily to blame for the dad bod—an excess of calories of any kind can create this physique. Keep that in mind as you do your keg stands. And before you ask, no, that’s not considered exercise.

So what are the healthiest drinks? Wine has long hogged the spotlight for its reported benefits, though moderate consumption of any alcohol—wine, beer or spirits—has shown benefits. (Don’t believe the wine- resveratrol hype, though—you’d have to drink truckloads to get the benefits described in those studies of rats.) When calories are the consideration, you may be surprised to know that liquor may be your best choice, straight up, neat or on the rocks. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram and a single serving (1.5 ounces) of any 80 proof liquor will equal roughly 100 calories. As the proof increases, so do the calories. Drinking straight up means you’ll (probably) drink a bit slower due to the strong taste. This will also save you from the hundreds of extra calories you could consume by mixing in cranberry cocktail, pineapple juice, Coke, ginger ale, Sprite or any other mixer of choice.


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