Arrrghhh, rum. The notorious drink of choice for pirates everywhere. But does rum pack any swashbucklin’ health benefits? Come right this way, me hearties.
Rum is also perfect for cocktails on the beach, served in a coconut with way too many umbrellas. From pirates to parasol-dwellers to punters, peeps have enjoyed rum for centuries thanks to its delicious sweet taste, fruity essence, and woozy after effects.
Traditionally, this sweetness came from sugar cane. But most of today’s rum uses molasses. Rum producers ferment the molasses before distilling the product into the drink we all know and love.
The darker the rum, the longer the fermentation. You’ll also often find spices in many brews for an extra hit of flavor. But beyond filling a pirate’s belly with extra courage, does this sweet and spicy spirit provide any health benefits?
Does rum actually provide health benefits?
Drinking any alcohol in moderation provides some health benefits. But it’s unclear whether rum has anything special to bring to the table.
At best, it might numb a sore throat. And spicing up your life with a bit of rum here and there will certainly make things more interesting (and delicious).
But don’t expect it to magically cure any of your ailments. Aim for balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle instead.
Magical pirate elixir of life or totally rum-believable nonsense? Let the research decide…
Does rum provide skin care benefits?
Nope. You’ll find plenty of people championing rum for giving them flawless skin. Some even use rum-based face masks or rubs that supposedly help with acne. But there is no clear evidence that this actually works.
Any old 80-proof booze is going to kill some bacteria, sure. But even rubbing alcohol isn’t a great choice here.
A large study of acne in young women mentioned a bunch of over-the-counter (OTC) treatments for acne — but nowhere did alcohol get honorable mention.
Drinking too much alcohol can actually make the effects of several uncomfortable skin conditions worse, including:
So maybe stick with the face wash and save the rum for piña coladas (and getting caught in the rain).
Is drinking rum every day good for you?
No. British sailors hit the rum daily to fight scurvy. But you’re not a sailor.
Regularly drinking more than the following limits every day can have a range of harmful effects on your bod:
- one drink per day for women
- one to two drinks per day for men
One study showed that there’s an increased risk of developing liver conditions too if you drink more than the guidelines recommend regularly.
The key is moderation. You can’t expect to drink loads of rum every day and miraculously become super healthy. Make sure you eat a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise.
Can drinking rum cure a sore throat?
Cure? Not really. Soothe? A little.
Every country on the planet has a booze-filled remedy at hand for fighting cold, flu, and other yucky viruses. But do they actually work?
Well, one study suggested that alcohol can kill the viruses that give you colds and the flu. But we’re talking hand sanitizer here, not hot toddies. And you 100 percent should not be necking hand sanitizer for your jollies.
Alcohol does have a pain-numbing effect. So, even though it’s unlikely to cure that sore throat, it might make you feel a bit less miserable and croaky.
A 2012 study with men showed that regularly drinking moderate amounts of alcohol can help ward off a cold (even though the study in question didn’t mention rum by name). That’s good enough reason to reach for the rum in the colder winter months if that’s your tipple of choice.
A shot of rum contains roughly 97 calories — a relatively low number when compared with some other alcohols.
Rum itself also contains no carbs. But you’ll often find it alongside mixers like soda and fruit juice (did somebody say Cuba libre?) that can be pretty high carb and sugary.
Consuming too much sugar can contribute to weight gain and increase your risk of diabetes. So, if you follow a carb-controlled diet, you might want to consider a low sugar alternative as a mixer. Or knock back a shot of neat rum if you’re really feeling adventurous.
Remember, calories are still calories. If you’re following a weight loss plan, it might be best to ditch the rum entirely to hit those health goals.
If you’re getting crunk every weekend, or find yourself drinking alcohol more days than not, you’re probably doing yourself more harm than good.
But drinking small amounts of alcohol regularly can have several health benefits (look at the Mediterranean diet for tips on how to do wine the right way). It’s all about moderation.
A 2013 study found that moderate drinking could bring down the risk of stroke in women (go, girls, go).
A research review showed that certain compounds in wine might protect your brain from the effects of a stroke. It’s a good excuse for that cheeky glass of pinot noir after dinner. The jury’s still out on rum, though.
Regular wine drinking may reduce your risk of depression, according to another 2013 study. But again, it’s about balance. The same study found that heavy use can increase the likelihood of developing depression.
It can be a slippery slope from having fun to developing a crutch. This evidence tackles wine, not rum. But a little alcohol can give you a buzz, whereas a lot can give you a massive headache and health conditions. It doesn’t take a scientist in a lab coat to tell you that.
Alcohol and mental health conditions really don’t mix. If you have an existing mental health condition, it’s best to avoid it entirely.
Drinking is good for your heart you say? Hurrah!
A 2011 meta-analysis showed that drinking wine and beer in moderation may lower your risk of heart complications.
Avast me hearties, right? Sorry, rum drinkers. But the researchers found none of these associated benefits from spirits (arrrghhh is correct).
Although moderate drinking appears to provide some benefits, it’s clear that lifestyle is a huge factor too.
If you’re not too fussed about booze or are currently teetotal, then it might be best to keep it that way. You definitely don’t need to drink to be a healthy, happy human being.
We all know that drinking too much alcohol on the reg can do a number on your health.
That doesn’t mean painting the town red is off the cards for good. You just need to remember that it’s supposed to be about having fun.
If alcohol use stops being fun, you should probably ask yourself why you’re still doing it. The same goes for doing pirate stuff. If you’ve still not found that buried treasure, it might be time to ditch the parrot and become an accountant.
Alcohol can wreak havoc on your organs and stop them from working fully.
Your liver, heart, kidneys, and pancreas can show different (but equally harmful) effects if you consistently drink too much booze. And if they’re not working at full pelt, you’re on the path to serious health conditions.
And what about your brain, the ship’s captain of your body? One study showed that even moderate amounts of alcohol can have a negative impact on brain function.
Several cancers have links to excessive alcohol intake, including:
- head and neck cancer
- esophageal cancer
- liver cancer
- breast cancer
- colorectal cancer
A 2006 research review had strong evidence that alcohol is a contributing factor for developing depression, particularly in men.
It can also make existing mental health conditions much worse. Mixing alcohol with certain medications can also be life threatening.
Drinking may provide temporary relief from a bad situation. But you’ll have to pay it back tenfold the next day.
What to do if you can’t put down the booze
Alcohol use disorder can happen to anyone. Thankfully, there are loads of options out there to help you cope.
If you live with alcohol addiction or have concerns about a family member, there’s always ways to get help — and you’re certainly not alone.
Here’s a list of useful resources to get you or your loved ones to put down the booze:
- Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s an international fellowship to help people living with alcohol misuse conditions. Find an AA meeting near you.
- NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator. It’s a tool to help you find treatment options in your area.
- Al Anon. It’s an organization that helps friends or family members of people living with alcohol misuse.
- SAMHSA. You’ll find resources for mental health conditions linked with substance misuse.
If tropical climates and booze-filled coconuts are your jam, then you’re probably no stranger to the joys of rum.
Sailors might have once sipped this infamous sweet liquor for a whole host of health reasons. Scurvy shouldn’t really be a problem if you’ve got access to fresh fruit and veggies.
But if you’re looking for alcohol-based health benefits in 2021, you’re better off drinking beer or wine (in moderation, of course) if you’re looking to enjoy any health benefits.
As long as you’re living a balanced lifestyle, you can certainly rely on the occasional nip o’ rum to warm your cockles on a lonesome night at sea. Or, y’know, a Friday night in the living room.