It's Memorial Day Weekend—and the season of summer barbecues and Friday happy hours are here at last. Of course, with that often comes an increase in alcohol consumption. And while that extra glass of rose or spicy margarita might seem harmless, it's also important to know: If you are going to drink, what's your healthiest option?
While it might sound like a mixed message, moderate drinking may offer some health benefits, especially for your heart. On the other hand, alcohol may increase your risk of health problems and damage your heart.
So first things first: if you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. For healthy adults, that should equate up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. I’d also like to note that in addition to dependence and addiction, alcohol abuse can damage organs, weaken the immune system, and contribute to cancers. It also affects all of us differently—so it's important to speak with your doctor about your personal health.
Still, for the average person, a moderate amount of alcohol is likely not harmful. So with that, here is my recommendation:
Detox your drink with antioxidants + choose the liquor well
I personally believe that if you're going to have a drink or two, it's best to do it with ingredients that are detoxifying and repair your body. You can choose ingredients that aid in the parts of the body you are putting some wear on. For example, the liver breaks down alcohol and the toxins it releases. During this process, alcohol’s byproducts damage liver cells. These damaged liver cells no longer function as well as they should and allow too much of these toxic substances to travel to the brain.
With that, it's best to "detox with your drink." When you use ingredients such as blueberry or pomegranate, your drink is antioxidant-packed and can help protect your cells and make alcohol less harsh on your body. These ingredients are full of nutrients, antioxidants, and help cleanse the entire digestive system and help restore your liver, over other sugary and processed juices and mixers.
When in doubt, you can also switch out any of these for another citrus or vegetable that's laying around at the weekend barbecue spread. These ingredients help flush out the toxins of the alcohol, making them less harmful and harsh on the body and helping you have less Monday blues once the weekend is over.
Second, when it comes to choosing the alcohol, there are some options that are healthier or less harsh on the body. For example, tequila contains no carbohydrates and is usually consumed at a slow rate, when served on the rocks and not in shot form! Another option is vodka and seltzer, since seltzer contains no added sugar and clearer or lighter types of alcohol tend to be easiest on the body. Plus, if you'ree gluten-free you can find gluten-free vodkas made from corn or potatoes. Of course, red wine is another great choice if you are going to drink, since it has no wheat and also contains tannins, which can be good for your heart (in moderation).
Want something a little more festive for the upcoming barbecue and summer cocktail parties? This is my go-to drink, which is easy to make, fresh and delicious and won’t kill your liver as the party continues over the long weekend:
A Healthier Cocktail For Summer
- 1 pound organic carrots, rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple, peeled
- 1 lime, peeled
- 1 orange, peeled
- 1 lemon, peeled
- 4 ounces vodka, or to taste
- 4 ounces aloe juice
- 16 ounces club soda
Juice all fruits. Add ice to a tall glass. Pour in vodka and aloe juice. Fill glass three-quarters full with juice and stir 10 to 15 times. Top off with club soda.
Here's to a happy and healthy summer!