Food & Drink

6 Surprising Ways Whiskey Is Actually Good for Your Health

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Everyone knows whiskey on the rocks is a choice way to relax after a long day at the office. But even better than the buzz is the expanding list of health benefits attributed to knocking one back. So long as your imbibe in moderation, here are five ways whiskey is actually good for your health.


1. Much like Champagne, whiskey can help lower your risk of dementia.



A 2003 case study reported that adults who consumed one to six alcoholic beverages a week showed a significantly lower risk of dementia than those who abstained from alcohol. It should also be noted that the moderate drinkers also fared better than study participants who had more than six alcoholic drinks a week.


2. It serves as a digestion aid.


While the hair of the dog might not help if your nausea is hangover-induced, drinking a whiskey after a large meal can help ease an upset stomach. Whiskey's high proof makes it an excellent digestif, stimulating the stomach's enzymes, which help break down food.


3. Single malt whiskies contain more ellagic acid than red wine.



In a speech at the EuroMedLab conference in 2005, Dr. Jim Swan, who, granted, is a consultant to the drinks industry, reported that whiskey contains more ellagic acid (a free-radical fighting antioxidant) than red wine. "There has been much in the news about the health benefits of antioxidants in red wine. By contrast, very little has been said about malt whiskey distillery science," he said.

"However, research has shown that there are even greater health benefits to people who drink single malt whiskies. Why? Single malt whiskies have more ellagic acid than red wine."

Is his opinion biased? For sure, but here's hoping an independent body validates his research ASAP.

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4. There's a connection between moderate consumption and a lowered risk of stroke.


A study out from Harvard University reports that moderate alcohol consumption corresponds with a 25 to 40 percent reduction in risk of heart disease and ischemic (or clot-caused) stroke. "It's safe to say that alcohol is both a tonic and a poison," says the paper's introduction.

"The difference lies mostly in the dose. Moderate drinking seems to be good for the heart and circulatory system, and probably protects against type 2 diabetes and gallstones. Heavy drinking is a major cause of preventable death in most countries."


5. Drinking in moderation benefits the heart and blood vessels.


Sure, alcohol can help lower inhibitions, but according to researchers in Toronto, one alcoholic drink can actually calm your circulatory system. "Our findings point to a slight beneficial effect of one drink–be it alcohol or red wine–on the heart and blood vessels, whereas two or more drinks would seem to turn on systems that stress the circulation," said Dr. John Floras, Director of Cardiology Research at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre and Mount Sinai Hospital. Again, everything in moderation.


6. It can help cure the common cold



In moderation, whiskey can dilate or widen your blood vessels. This helps with cold symptoms like congestion, by allowing more movement of the mucus membrane in your sinuses, or flushing out an infection. (That might explain why Hot Toddies have been a historical home remedy for cold and flu symptoms.) A bit of whiskey may also contribute to a better night's sleep, but only a bit! Too much will have an opposite effect, leaving you with a hangover instead of a cold cure.

For more studies proving whiskey is good for your health, head over to Cool Material.

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Caroline Hallemann
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