Can a shot a day keep the doctor away? Prob not. But whiskey might have some surprising health benefits.
We’re serving these whiskey facts straight up (and letting you know what’s a little watered down). Here’s everything you need to know about this spirit’s potential health perks, along with the risks.
Have you ever thought, “at least it has antioxidants” as you down a glass (or three) of red wine? Good news: Whiskey has antioxidants, too! Whiskey (especially single-malt) is high in ellagic acid, an amazing antioxidant that can stave off cancer-causing free radicals.
But this is all theoretical science. Whiskey isn’t a fail-safe way to prevent cancer, but its antioxidant benefits just might help you out.
Booze can thin your blood. That means a daily shot of the good stuff might lower your risk of blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks. Plus, small amounts of whiskey can raise HDL levels in your bloodstream which may help prevent heart disease.
Reminder: Alcohol cannot replace actual medical care to prevent or treat heart issues. Self-medicating with any alcohol is a big no-no.
Lower risk of dementia
If you can’t remember how you got home from the bar last night, you can blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol. Booze def isn’t good for your short-term memory, but it might help you in the long run.
A 2003 study from the National Institute of Health (NIH) showed drinking one to six standard drinks a week can lower your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. But even 2020 research shows we need more studies to prove this.
The calming effect from the alcohol in whiskey may help curb your stress and help you relax. The increased circulation may also help oxygenate the blood which can add to the chill vibes. While Jack Daniels might take the edge off, it’s not a cure-all for stress.
But please note: Whiskey isn’t the answer to reduce stress or anxiety, especially if it becomes a habit. It’s never safe to use alcohol as a way to cope with stress.
Having anxiety also makes you more susceptible to an alcohol use disorder, so moderation is super important. Plain and simple: alcohol shouldn’t be used as a coping mechanism.
Whiskey might be better booze for folks with diabetes. It’s gluten-free and has very little sugar due to the distillation process. Just be sure to buy a brand that doesn’t add any sweet stuff to the batch.
Whiskey might also help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but no research is conclusive and it’s a little mixed.
A 2010 study suggests long-term moderate alcohol intake can stabilize your body’s insulin. However, a newer 2015 meta-analysis showed this reduction in risk only applied to women and non-Asian populations.
Another 2017 review found that light-to-moderate alcohol intake didn’t stabilize blood sugar, but it also didn’t increase it in people with diabetes.
Take note: Heavy drinking isn’t healthy anyway, but it can also increase your risk of diabetes. So, it’s all about moderation, folks.
Like most alcohols, whiskey has killer antiseptic properties when used topically. This helps control excess oils and can dissolve dirt and bacteria off your skin.
That means whiskey might just benefit your skin if used as a toner to tame pimples and blackheads. But, alcohol can also be super drying and irritating to the skin.
Help you sleep
Fancy a night cap? Drinking whiskey before bed might help you relax and get some Zzz’s. Just be sure to keep it light and don’t rely on it as a sleep aid. Too much whiskey can have the opposite effect and can disrupt your sleep.
And even though research shows alcohol might help you fall asleep faster, it also shows even small amounts can disrupt your sleep during the night.
Drinking whiskey *might* decrease your risk of anxiety, diabetes, heart disease, or dementia. But TBH, drinking can get really unsafe, especially if you drink in excess. Here’s what can happen if you drink too much on the reg.
Consider your liver the phoenix of the body. It has amazing regeneration properties and performs loads of vital functions. One of its main jobs is to filter out the toxins that come into your body. That makes it extra vulnerable to alcohol damage.
Two common alcohol-related liver diseases are:
- Fatty liver. Studies suggest about fatty liver may not be reversible in up to 20 percent of people.
- Liver inflammation. Alcohol can kill liver cells which are replaced by scar tissue. This can lead to cirrhosis which can be very serious and irreversible.
Brain damage and addiction
Ever wake up next to a pizza you don’t remember ordering after Dollar Shot Night? We feel that. Getting schwifty can cause memory loss, amnesia, or blackouts.
While hangovers are temporary, chronic alcohol abuse can lead to threatening, long-term issues. It can also increase your risk of dependency.
Here’s what to look out for:
- Brain damage. Chronic alcohol abuse can permanently change your brain, leading to impaired brain function and brain shrinkage.
- Addiction. Alcoholism can greatly increase your risk of developing numerous health conditions.
Need some help?
If alcohol is affecting your life, please remember you are not alone. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 14.1 million U.S. adults have an alcohol use disorder.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has a ton of resources on their website. They even have an Alcohol Treatment Toolkit.
In the United States a “standard drink” is any drink that has 0.6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol — that’s about 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces (a shot) of liquor.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, moderate drinking is considered:
- 1 standard drink a day for women
- 2 standard drinks a day for men
Heavy drinking is defined as:
- more than 3 drinks a day for women
- more than 4 drinks a day for men
Note: What’s OK for you might not be healthy for someone else
The amount of alcohol that’s considered “healthy” for you also depends on your lifestyle, medical conditions, and family history.
Whiskey with lemon
Lemon + Whiskey = *chefs kiss* 😘. In addition to being delish, lemon is loaded with vitamin C.
This powerful antioxidant can reduce your risk of catching a cold, but it’s not a cure. A 2013 systematic review found a megadose (far higher than what you’d get in lemon juice) reduced the length and intensity of a cold.
Bottom line: You’ll get some extra vitamin C, but it’s not a cold buster. Lots of folks also say lemon can help ease a sore through, but there’s little scientific evidence to prove that.
Whiskey with hot water
Alcohol is a diuretic (meaning it makes you pee a lot) and removes fluids from your blood. This can make you dehydrated if you don’t drink enough water with your booze. Mixing whiskey with hot water might help counteract the dehydration.
Plus if you have a cold, hot water may help calm congestion because the steam can loosen us any pesky mucus.
Brew a bomb hot toddy
Yes, a hot toddy isn’t just whiskey. It also has hot water, honey, and lemon — which all have their own medicinal properties.
There’s little research to support hot toddies are 10/10 effective at reducing cold symptoms. But research shows hot drinks in general can help combat common cold symptoms.
Simply stir these ingredients and enjoy:
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 tablespoon organic honey
- 1 1/2 fluid ounces whiskey (about one shot)
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pro tip: Make it more gram-worthy with a stick of cinnamon or star anise. You can also get fancy and add some fresh ginger which is fab for inflammation.
Not all whiskeys are created alike. The main branches of the whiskey tree are:
- blended whiskey
- single-malt whiskey
Experts will tell you that there are major differences in taste and quality from shot to shot. But in terms of health benefits, it’s difficult to say.
We suggest you stick to high-quality liquor. Go for brands that are free from preservatives or other unnatural additives. You deserve the best 🥃.