When it comes to alcohol, it seems the wellness world is more interested than ever in healthy beer, wine, and spirits. People are discovering raw wines—like those from Dry Farm Wines—and this supping tequila from Casa Dragones. There's no doubt about it: Our office happy hours are getting healthier by the day.
We've asked our doctors time and time again what their favorite drinks are and the results are always a mixed bag. It seems that a lot of different types of alcohol have health benefits! That said, two seem to resurface over and over again as top choices—red wine and tequila. So we reached out to our doctors for a final answer and asked them the question: If you had to pick a holiday drink tomorrow, what would you pick: red wine or tequila? Their answers might surprise you.
1. Red wine all the way
"When looking at the health attributes of red wine versus tequila, there's really no consideration. Red wine offers the health benefits of powerful natural antioxidants called polyphenols and there's only around 2 grams of fructose in an entire bottle." —David Perlmutter, M.D., neurologist, mbg Collective member, and author of the best-selling book Grain Brain
2. Tequila every time
"Tequila over wine all day. First, it's distilled, which makes it far less inflammatory. Tequila is made from agave, so it's very low on the glycemic index. People report still being in ketosis after having a good tequila like Mezcal. Ounce for ounce tequila is the clear winner." —Kevin Libby, nutritionist and founder of PH2 nutrition
3. Wine, then tequila
If you are going to drink, drink red wine. It has two important polyphenols—resveratrol and quercetin—which will literally keep you young, as I discuss in my upcoming book The Longevity Paradox. If you drink tequila, use the dark forms, which are aged in wooden casks, which will impart a few polyphenols. And for your health's sake, no margaritas." —Steven Gundry, M.D., cardiologist and author of The Plant Paradox
4. BOTH red wine and tequila have health benefits
"Red wine contains resveratrol, which may offer some health benefit and, in fact, may have anti-cancer properties1. When it comes to hard liquor, vodka and tequila seem to win in terms of health benefits—but remember that if you're mixing them with a sugary substance or juice, whatever benefit you may be getting goes straight out the window. While it may be hard to know exactly what the best hard liquor might be, there is some interesting research pointing to tequila as a method of extending the lifespan2 of the fruit fly. An older study from 2006 demonstrated that acute vodka consumption3 in moderation had anti-inflammatory effects." —Marvin Singh, M.D., integrative gastroenterologist
And so, the experts seem to be divided over which alcohol comes in at No. 1. What they can seem to agree on, however, is that clear liquors—like tequila and vodka—and red wine some of the healthiest avenues if you're going to be indulging in a drink every once in a while.
In fact, the most important point is actually less about "red wine versus tequila" and more about quantity. Remember: Moderation really is everything when it comes to things like alcohol and sugar. As Dr. Singh explained, "There are definitely a lot of things to consider when choosing your drink for the holidays, but my main piece of advice is to make sure that whatever you choose, you choose it in moderation. Once you start drinking to excess, any health benefits that might have been present are easily lost4."
Gretchen Lidicker has a B.S. in biology and earned her master’s degree in physiology with a concentration in complementary and alternative medicine from Georgetown University. She's the author of CBD Oil Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide to Hemp-Derived Health and Wellness and Magnesium Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide to Epsom Salts, Magnesium Oil, and Nature's Relaxation Mineral. A Kripalu Center for Yoga and Ayurveda-trained yoga instructor, expert bread baker, and farmers market fanatic, she believes that no day is complete without a good dance party.