Are Cocktails Healthy? The Facts About Alcoholic Drinks

By Timo Torner / Last updated on May 1, 2023

Physicians often say alcohol is bad for our health. But then again, research shows a glass of wine can actually be beneficial for a healthy adult person. Most likely, both statements have a right to exist, as the effects depend strongly on the individual. So, are there circumstances under which a cocktail could be healthy?
Are Cocktails Healthy

Are cocktails healthy? Cocktails are bad for your health because they contain alcohol and sugar, right? That is a common opinion and unquestionably true in a lot of cases. 

But it doesn't always have to be like that. As a matter of fact, consuming alcohol can even be beneficial for your health. 

The high level of antioxidants in alcoholic drinks, especially polyphenolic compounds in red wine, can help our cardiovascular system. They can fight changes in the blood vessels and reduce the effect of high blood pressure and blood sugar.

Those benefits even can outweigh the negative impact of alcohol, making alcoholic beverages more healthy than harmful. The magic key to health benefits through cocktails or other drinks is, you might have guessed it, moderate drinking.

Are cocktails healthy?

According to extensive studies, cocktails may indeed have a positive impact on your health. Focus is on the "can" because some drinks contain more than the recommended alcohol intake per day. 

But a cocktail containing only small quantities of alcohol can surely improve your health and prevent heart attacks. That means moderate drinking plays a key role, and you shouldn't drink more than the recommended amount.

To be fair, the discussion is still ongoing. Even though there are many studies backing the medical benefits of low alcohol intake, there are always new studies proclaiming a strict no-alcohol rule.

For the sake of completeness, the discussion is still ongoing. Although there are many studies that prove the medical benefits of low alcohol consumption, there are always new studies that call for strict abstinence from alcohol.

What moderate drinking means

When reading about the impact of alcohol on our health, you will find the words "moderate drinking" or "moderate alcohol intake" constantly. 

Somewhere along the debate about the impact of alcohol, these terms got somewhat blurry. So I first want to establish what moderate drinking actually means.

Many studies define moderate alcohol intake as the number of drinks. Some say one drink per day is fine, yet others state up to three are acceptable, but only for alcoholic beverages with a low ABV. 

You probably see the problem already. There is no ultimate definition. A "drink" can be a lot, as we all know. A glass of beer definitely has other effects than a Long Island Iced Tea, so what does a "drink" mean then? 

There is now a standard definition trying to create a general baseline. The definition of a drink is:  

  • 12 oz beer
  • 8 oz malt liquor
  • 5 oz wine
  • 1.5 oz distilled spirits (80 proof, like gin, vodka, rum, or whiskey)

For all of them, the average content of alcohol is around 12 - 14 grams on average. There are still variations, but we can use this as a guideline.

Based on this definition, moderate drinking means one drink per day for "average" women and a maximum of 1-2 drinks per day for "average" men. 

And by one drink, I refer to the quantity in the overview above - We all know that a decent wine glass can hold more than 5oz. But if you're serious about moderate drinking, that's the limit. 

Drinking Habits

Another thing I want to emphasize is the importance of drinking habits.

When you have seven drinks during the weekend while not drinking at all the rest of the week, that's not the same as having one drink per day.

The average may remain the same, but the effects on your body and health don't.

Benefits of Alcohol in Cocktails

As mentioned already, the primary health benefit of alcohol is that it can lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. If your moderate alcohol consumption is spread over at least four days a week, this is inversely related to the risk of myocardial infarcts. 

The volume seems not to be as essential as the regularity, but it should not exceed 30 grams per day, regardless of your gender.

Studies show a clear correlation between moderate drinking and a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases. Unfortunately, one promising long-term study got halted due to policy concerns. Its purpose was to prove the positive effects on an international basis. But then, there's enough evidence backing the positive impact through regular, moderate consumption.

Cardiovascular Diseases

More than 100 studies show that consuming alcohol in moderate doses can significantly lower the risks of heart attacks, ischemic strokes, and sudden cardiac death. 

To be more precise, it can lower these risks by 25-40%. But, as controversial as it may sound, these numbers are only valid for regular drinking.

On the other hand, increasing the number of drinks per day can have serious harmful effects. It can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, strokes, and heart attacks. 

If you want to read more about those studies, I recommend this article from Harvard University.

Other positive effects

In addition to the already mentioned benefits, there are other positive effects of a low intake of alcohol. 

Moderate drinking can also reduce the risk of diabetes II and gallstones. And social and psychological effects should be taken into account, as well. 

Hanging out with your friends while having a beer can effectively improve your general well-being.

Which cocktail is healthiest?

Generally, there's no such thing as the "healthiest" cocktail. When talking about the benefits of alcohol, it doesn't matter in which combination we consume it. 

But if you want to add to the benefits of your daily drink, look for cocktails with fresh juices, low-sugar components, or ones with an overall low amount of calories.

So, is it ok to drink a cocktail every day?

Yes, it is alright to have one cocktail every day. It can even be beneficial. But stick to the limit of "one drink" as described above, and don't drink too quickly. It's about regularity and not average numbers.

Are there people who definitely should not drink alcohol?

Yes, there are groups of people who should avoid drinking alcohol altogether. The list includes:

  • Pregnant women
  • Women who are breastfeeding
  • People under medication that may interact with alcohol
  • People who have been addicted to alcohol
  • People unable to control their alcohol intake

Breastfeeding women represent a special group, as this topic is also hotly debated. However, it has been proven that alcohol enters the baby's body via breast milk. Therefore, it is important not to consume alcohol while breastfeeding to avoid possible harm to the baby.


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