Alcoholic Beverages In Moderation

No one's sure who first invented beer, wine, or spirits, but historians do know that societies have enjoyed these beverages throughout recorded history.

Today, moderate amounts still add pleasure to eating. For some, a single drink may be relaxing—per-haps in the company of another. For older adults and people with some chronic illnesses, a drink before a meal may enhance appetite. And evidence suggests that moderate drinking may lower the risk for heart disease among some people; healthful eating and active living are part of the equation, too.

The key to potential benefits is sensibility: moderation and understanding alcohol equivalency.

  • Moderation: up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks daily for men
  • Equivalency of one drink: 12 fluid ounces of regular beer (150 calories), or 5 ounces of fluid wine (100 calories), or 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (100 calories). Each contains the same amount of alcohol—approximately 14 grams (or 0.6 fluid ounces) of pure ethanol. Distilled spirits include bourbon, brandy, gin, rum, vodka, whisky, and liqueurs.

The Dietary Guidelines advises: Those who choose to drink alcoholic beverages should do so sensibly and in moderation. The guidelines continue, giving specific precautions, among them: never drink if it puts you or others at risk!

Alcoholic Beverages: The Health Effects

For most adults, one alcohol-containing drink or two a day offers little risk for problems related to drinking. Are there any benefits? What are the risks?

Unlike nutrients, most alcohol isn't broken down through digestion. Its "pathway" to body cells moves much faster, including directly through the stomach lining and wall of the small intestine. With no food in the stomach to slow it down, absorption into the blood-

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