Can Alcohol Be Part of a Healthy Diet?

In fact, moderate drinking – up to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men, in most cases – can fit into a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Healthy Food

Q: Can Alcohol Be Part of a Healthy Diet?

A: With a full calendar of holiday parties and events this time of year, chances are you may be wondering how alcohol – wine, beer and even those hand-crafted cocktails you see at restaurants – fits into your diet.  In fact, moderate drinking – up to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men, in most cases* – can fit into a healthy diet and lifestyle.  In some cases, moderate drinking has even been shown to have health benefits, lowering the risk of certain diseases.

Here are a few ways alcohol can affect your body:

  • Heart: While heavy drinking is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke and arrhythmia, moderate drinking has actually been shown to have a positive effect on the heart by lowering the risk of heart disease. 
  • Brain and Central Nervous System: Alcohol slows down the central nervous system, and in turn, decreases reaction time and coordination.  It’s for this reason a designated driver is always a must to get everyone home from the restaurant or party safely.
  • Metabolism: There are many theories about how alcohol affects metabolism as well as how it may increase the risk of obesity.  To date, evidence on the relationship between moderate alcohol consumption and obesity remains inconclusive.  With that said, alcoholic drinks can be high in calories which, in excess, can impact your health goals.

Whether you’re enjoying a local craft beer at happy hour with co-workers or a classic cocktail at your favorite restaurant, be prepared with a designated driver and the information you need to stay on track with your health goals this holiday season.  Find nutrition information (calories, fat, etc.) for some common drink choices here

How do you balance healthy choices at restaurants with moderate indulgences like alcohol?  What tips do you follow to stay on track with a healthy diet during the holiday celebrations?

*Work with your doctor and dietitian for personalized recommendations.