Recently, I read that tequila might have some health benefits. I decided to embark on a quest to find out the truth.
Nowadays, there are many new scientific discoveries that reveal surprising health benefits of certain foods we might never have thought contained any significant nourishing value. For example, cinnamon may help control diabetes, and something as silly-looking as wiggly gelatin can potentially strengthen our bone health.
Recently, I came across a snippet in a cookbook that claimed that tequila might have a few health benefits to offer. As a tequila lover, I considered that to be wonderful news, but then I thought, "Wait a minute. It sounds a little too good to be true!" Soon enough, I decided to embark on a quest to find out the truth. Before a further discussion about tequila health benefits, however, let's take a look at the history of this distilled spirit.
History of Tequila
Made from the juice of the blue agave plant, tequila has been around since the 16th century, but it was first mass-produced in the early 1800s, in Guadalajara, Mexico. Not long after that, it became and has still remained one of the best-selling alcoholic products around the world.
Today, there are over 900 registered brands and more than a thousand mixed-drink recipes that use tequila as a key ingredient. Without this distilled spirit, mankind wouldn't have experienced the awesomeness of some popular drinks, such as the margarita and the Long Island iced tea.
Bartenders and drinkers have come up with various ways to enjoy tequila. Some like it pure; some spice it up a bit with a lime wedge and a pinch of salt, and many others prefer using it in cocktails. Whether you favor tequila shots or a Tequila Sunrise, I don't think it really matters. As long as you know your proper limit and drink responsibly, it's all good!
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Does Tequila Really Offer Any Health Benefits?
Tequila and Colon Health
I found quite a few online articles that claim tequila can aid in digestion if consumed in moderation. Unfortunately, besides sounding quite adamant about it, none of those articles has offered any concrete studies to back up their claim. What I have learned from a more reliable source, however, is less optimistic.
According to CBC News, Mexican researchers discovered that the agave plant contains a good amount of inulin, a substance that has proven to help the digestive system grow good bacteria and therefore can potentially relieve certain colon diseases. Since tequila is made from the agave plant, many may assume that it should also contain the same health benefit. Well, bad news to tequila lovers: it doesn't. Guillermo Toriz, a researcher at the University of Guadalajara, told CBC News that any health benefits found in the plant are lost once it is fermented to make alcohol.
Tequila and Stress
Many online articles I've read also promote tequila as a stress reliever. While this claim is not completely bogus, it's not always true, either. The truth is moderate consumption of any alcohol, not just tequila, usually results in a release of endorphins in the brain, making us feel temporarily happier, more relaxed, and for some, wittier and a lot more talkative! So yes, drinking a little glass of tequila could help relieve mild, occasional stress.
For those who suffer from chronic stress, however, alcohol tends to make it worse. Emma Childs, a research associate at the University of Chicago, told Science Daily that stress can reduce the intoxicating effects of alcohol, therefore people with extreme stress may drink more to achieve the same effect. Plus, although alcohol can decrease the body's hormonal response to stress in the short term, it has also proven to prolong the feelings of tension caused by the stressor. In other words, drinking alcohol can actually make it more difficult for those who suffer from extreme chronic stress to recover from their negative feelings.
Tequila and Dementia
The ability to lower the risk of dementia in older adults is another health benefit of tequila I kept coming across. This might have something to do with a recent report by BBC News about a research study at The Wake Forest University. According to the study, those who consume between 8–14 alcoholic drinks a week have a 37% lower risk of dementia than the general population! The reason for this is still pretty much unclear to the researchers. This discovery, although very promising, has not yet been widely confirmed. So I, for one, wouldn't encourage anybody to drink more tequila or any alcohol, just for this potential health benefit. There are other better ways to maintain good brain health.
If you don't drink, that's great; try to remain that way. If you do enjoy the unique taste of tequila, try to keep your drinking in moderation. Excessive consumption of any alcohol will lead to more health risks than benefits. Plus, this distilled spirit is quite powerful. Without understanding your limit, you might end up making a fool of yourself, as George Carlin once said in his stand-up act: "One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor!"
Some Popular Tequila Mixed Drinks
Bloody Maria (Bloody Mary's close cousin)
tequila, horseradish, Tabasco sauce, tomato juice, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper
tequila, blue curacao, white creme de cacao, cream
Long Island Iced Tea
tequila, cola, gin, rum, triple sec, sour mix, vodka
tequila, lemon or lime juice, triple sec
tequila, orange liqueur, sweet and sour mix, Sprite, lime juice, orange juice, olives
white tequila, creme de cassis, 7-Up, brown sugar, lime wedges, mint leaves
tequila, grenadine,Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, tomato juice, orange juice, lime juice
Anejo tequila, bitters, sweet vermouth, maraschino cherry
tequila, grenadine, orange juice
tequila, rum, gin, vodka, triple sec, melon liqueur
© 2012 Om Paramapoonya