Most evidence suggests that moderate drinking is healthy, and it might even boost your immunity. While no M.D. will give you the thumbs up for heavy drinking (for good reason), it is possible to choose drinks this Independence Day that aren't all bad.
While drinks light in calories (say those made with diet soda or bubbly water) are good choices for your waistline, other drinks also offer health rewards on a holiday when hedonism usually reigns.
A Manhattan, or really anything made with bitters, is a good choice for a cocktail that goes down easy. Bitters are a potent mix of herbs or flowers with water and alcohol, and they were a staple of herbal remedies long before they were an artisanal ingredient in fancy cocktails. Limited evidence suggests they may ease digestion.
A glass of Cabernet is not a common choice for a barbecue, but some studies in animals have suggested that — thanks perhaps to an ingredient called resveratrol — it may protect against a variety of age-related diseases.
While something in red wine does seem to help the heart, according to The Mayo Clinic, "to get the same dose of resveratrol used in the mice studies, a person would have to drink over 60 liters of red wine every day." Bottoms up?
Orange juice may be packed with sugar, but just one cup will get to your recommended daily value of Vitamin C. (The popular immune-booster is not a cure-all, but it can reduce the severity of colds.) Mix OJ with vodka to make this classic drink, which increases your likelihood of a easier day-after by steering clear of the dark alcohols more likely to produce a hangover.
Wine seems to get all the positive attention, but beer — provided you choose a variety lower in calories — has health benefits too. "The antioxidant content of beer is equivalent to that of wine," reports a study in The American Journal of the Medical Sciences, and "from a nutritional standpoint, beer contains more protein and B vitamins than wine." Silicon, a mineral found in beer, may also contribute to stronger bones.
Sure, it may be an unconventional choice for pairing with a hotdog, but if you want to drink through a hot summer day, you could do worse than this spicy, vodka-based beverage.
The salt will help you replenish the electrolytes you sweat out, and an antioxidant called lycopene, found in tomato juice, is "associated with decreased risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases," notes a review in The Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Snacking on the celery in your glass can't hurt either.
Alcohol dehydrates you, and when you're boozing and get thirsty, the instinct is to chug a beer or reach for another icy cocktail. Resist. Instead, try mixing it up with a few glasses of water — unglamorous but definitely essential. Since many of the worst parts of a hangover come from dehydration, you'll also be just a little happier when you wake up the next morning.
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