Most are familiar with the health benefits of moderate wine drinking thanks to the discovery of the French paradox. The French paradox is an observation that the French have low heart disease death rates despite a high intake of cheese and fat. However, you probably didn’t know that spirits like whiskey can also be good for your health. To get the full benefits from whiskey, drinking moderately is key. As explained in an article from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, alcohol is both a tonic and poison, and its double-faced nature depends on the dose. To learn just how exactly whiskey might benefit your health, continue reading.
1. Whiskey can calm you down
Whiskey’s sedating effects are not just a result of its high alcohol content (40-43%). According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the aging of whiskey significantly influenced the degree of sedation. The study found that the effects of certain types of barbiturates increased the sleeping time in mice after inhaling whiskey. This means that minor components other than ethanol can influence the GABA receptors in the brain which are responsible for inhibiting brain excitability. According to the researchers, these minor components in whiskey are a thousand times more potent than ethanol resulting in anxiety-reducing, sedating, and pain-relieving effects.
2. Whiskey can protect your heart
Moderate whiskey drinking is defined as one drink (1.5 fluid ounces) per day for women and two drinks for men according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. One study examined whether moderate whiskey drinking in healthy subjects increased the phenol content and antioxidant activity in their blood which is good news for those suffering from heart disease and even many types of arthritis. According to the study’s findings, the antioxidant activity in the blood plasma was significantly high just 30 minutes after drinking 100ml of whiskey which is great for the heart, but also the joints.
3.Whiskey reduces your risk of diabetes
A person’s drinking pattern seems to determine their risk of type 2 diabetes according to one study on 46,892 U.S. male health professionals. In comparison with those who never drank alcohol, moderate drinkers had an overall 36% lower risk of developing diabetes. On the other hand, those who drank more than the recommended daily dose had an increased risk of diabetes according to the study’s findings and the best results were seen in those who drank five drinks per week. The type of alcoholic drink didn’t matter as long as it was consumed moderately. So if you want to lower your risk of type two diabetes with whiskey, make sure to sip on one drink per day.
4. Whiskey may prevent cancer
Alcohol drinking is often associated with an increased risk of cancer. However, certain types of whiskey may offer some cancer-protective benefits. Whiskey is a rich source of antioxidants, and single-malt whiskey is rich in one potent antioxidant called ellagic acid. According to Dr. Jim Swan who spoke at the EuroMedLab 2005 conference in Glasgow, the ellagic acid in whiskey scavenges unstable atoms responsible for cell damage that can lead to cancer. This was later found to be true in a study published in the Journal of Food Science where scientists observed free radical scavenging activities of polyphenols in mature whiskey among which was ellagic acid. And not surprisingly, the polyphenol content in whiskey seems to increase with maturation especially in single-malt varieties.
5. Whiskey protects your brain
Alcohol consumption has a profound effect on brain chemistry and circulation. Sometimes, these changes in the brain from alcohol intake along with the previously explained antioxidant activity of whiskey polyphenols may protect your brain from Alzheimer’s and dementia. To see if there is any truth to this, scientists studied lifelong drinking habits of adults aged 65 and older from the Cardiovascular Health Study. Compared with abstinence, drinking one to six drinks weekly was associated with a decreased risk of dementia. Phytochemicals were already observed to offer some strong neuroprotective benefits, and since whiskey is rich in these phytochemicals, we can see how this drink protects the brain from degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
As you can see, having a drink or two of whiskey daily can be good for you. From protecting your heart and brain to reducing your risk of cancer, whiskey can be considered a healthy beverage. But realistically speaking, whiskey, just like any other alcoholic drink is both a tonic and poison. Too much of the good stuff can harm you. Some of the health hazards of too much drinking are heart disease, liver damage, and even cancer.