It’s a well-known fact that stress is not great for your heart, so it doesn’t sound unreasonable that we would want to have a few drinks with friends as a way to unwind after a long day.
However, alcohol and your heart don’t make for the best pairing. While you can drink in moderation without affecting your heart much, there are some drinks that you just should avoid entirely.
In this blog, we’ll walk you through the 5 drinks that you want to avoid if you want to keep your heart in tip-top shape, and 3 that are safe to drink.
5 Drinks Your Heart Is Better Off Without
If you are on a quest to find the balance between alcohol and heart health, avoid drinking the following:
Let’s start the list with one that is going to break a lot of hearts. In addition to calories with no nutritional value, beer contains congeners, a chemical component that contributes to hangovers. Truth be told, in terms of alcohols that potentially benefit health beer is probably at the bottom of the list.
People often tend to down more beers in one sitting than they would other cocktails, due to their lower alcohol content. For instance, one 12 oz. Budweiser contains 147 calories and 11 grams of carbohydrates. It makes a difference to choose a light beer – it has 110 calories and 7 grams of carbohydrates – but many people drink more because of the lower caloric load.
Most excess calories in drinks come from the juices, mixes, and soda people add to them, not alcohol. Drinks with juice are high in sugar, which means extra calories and a greater hangover. Piña Coladas, for instance, have more calories than hamburgers!
Here’s what these additions cost per 8 oz.:
- A can of Sprite contains 100 calories and 26 grams of sugar.
- A can of Coke contains 97 calories and 27 grams of sugar.
- A tonic water contains 83 calories and 22 grams of sugar.
- Orange juice has 112 calories and 22 grams of sugar.
- Cranberry juice has 137 calories and 30 grams of sugar.
Use sparkling water, lemons, limes, cucumber slices, or orange slices to flavor your drinks. Alternatively, you can have your margarita on the rocks and avoid pre-made mixes, which contain high fructose corn syrup. If you are asking your bartender for a mixed drink, make sure they go for clear alcohol and use fresh fruit juice.
Blended Frozen Drinks
A daiquiri is a prime example of what can happen when you mess with a good thing.
The traditional daiquiri is made with rum, lime juice, and simple syrup and served chilled in a cocktail glass. Sounds easy and delicious, doesn’t it?
Most bars, however, buy ready-to-drink mixes and blend them in a machine that creates HFCS-laden monster slush drinks.
There are 280 calories and 36 grams of sugar in those frozen single-serve daiquiri pouches at the grocery store! It is possible to consume between 240 and 417 calories per frozen Margarita or Pina Colada at the bar.
Anything Mixed with an Energy Drink
You may have gotten through college with vodka Red Bulls, but they are extremely calorie dense.
The effects of drinking alcohol combined with an energy drink are more severe than consuming alcohol alone, according to one study.
When you drink and combine caffeine and alcohol, you’re elevating your blood pressure, increasing your risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart disease. The liver and kidneys can also be negatively affected by long-term excessive alcohol consumption.
People who suffer from atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) should be especially cautious when consuming alcohol, caffeine, or both.
In addition to the above, sodium is also an issue. Your blood pressure could be further increased by some caffeinated/energy drinks that contain sodium.
Overly Sweet Drinks
While most people may be aware of this category, it’s worth explaining so you don’t fall victim to it.
A White Russian will derail your diet by close to 300 calories thanks to the vodka, Kahlua, and heavy cream, which is “the richest type of liquid cream with a minimum 36% fat content.”.
You’ll also need to budget room for the fat content in your diet if you consume anything labeled as Irish cream. There are 147 calories, 9 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of fat in a shot glass-sized serving of this after-dinner libation.
3 Drinks Your Heart Will Appreciate
We don’t want to kill your buzz entirely, so we also rounded up a list of drinks that play nice with your heart, so you can have better heart health while still enjoying a drink or two.
One of the healthiest alcohols you can drink, if there is such a thing as healthy alcohol, is red wine.
Red wine contains antioxidants that protect your cells from damage, as well as polyphenols that promote heart health. Rose and white wine also contain them but in smaller amounts. However, be wary about wine as you get older since alcohol impacts aging.
Red wine is associated with improving:
- The health of your cardiovascular system
- Your bone density
- Your brain health
Any type of wine you’re looking for should be natural. There are fewer additives in these wines, so your liver won’t have to work as hard, which adds to its health benefits.
Your local wine store can advise you on the healthiest natural wines to purchase.
Clear Liquors (Especially Tequila)
You could do much worse if you’re drinking clear liquors such as tequila, which are generally low in calories.
In addition to being low in sugar and calories, clear liquors such as vodka, tequila, and gin are also the easiest to digest.
Researchers have found that whiskey can have similar antioxidant properties to red wine.
The study concluded that moderate alcohol consumption plus increased antioxidant intake could reduce heart disease risk.
There’s still debate over whether alcohol can really be heart-healthy, so it’s probably safer to consume other antioxidant-rich treats like dark chocolate instead.
While there are some drinks that you should completely avoid when it comes to keeping your heart healthy, you can still enjoy a drink here or there.
The key is moderation, and one of the best ways to manage your drinking is by using a alcohol tracking app, such as Sunnyside.
So, next time you are at the bar, or a friendly gathering, make sure to steer clear of that Long Island Iced tea and opt instead for some clear liquors, wine, or plain old water.