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!
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
Pattimin on May 27, 2020:
Just to let you know there are no worms in tequila. There is a worm in mezcal and not all bottles of mezcal have them and there only there for show.
Om Paramapoonya (author) on February 03, 2013:
@shin_rocka04 - Smart choice! The more natural, the better.
shin_rocka04 from Maryland on January 30, 2013:
Good article. I don't drink Tequila very often, but I definitely have to drink a 100% de Agave. No Jose Cuervo especial mixto crap for me =).
Om Paramapoonya (author) on October 08, 2012:
@lindacee - Hehehe Maybe your body is just telling you to have more fun! Thanks for stopping by, Linda :)
Linda Chechar from Arizona on October 07, 2012:
Interesting Hub, Om. I rarely drink tequila. But lately I've had a craving for a Margarita. Wonder if my body is trying to tell me something? ;)
Om Paramapoonya (author) on October 07, 2012:
@Emma Harvey - Thanks for your comment and votes, Emma. It is indeed a feel-good drink. Oprah Winfrey once said she would choose a tequila shot over a glass of wine to help herself unwind at the end of a stressful day. :)
Emma Kisby from Berkshire, UK on October 07, 2012:
Great article Om - really interesting about tequila. I would never have considered its health benefits.
I'll have a shot of tequila or two now and again when I'm out. It certainly feels good anyhow!
Up and awesome :)
Om Paramapoonya (author) on October 06, 2012:
@anglnwu - Haha I have a pretty low alcohol tolerance, too. As long as I drink slowly, I tend to be okay, though. So far I've never ended up on the floor....not yet. lol
@PWalker - You're welcome :)
PWalker281 on October 06, 2012:
I'll keep that in mind, Om. Thanks!
anglnwu on October 06, 2012:
I enjoyed reading this despite the fact that I don't tolerate alcohol well. I know I'm quite the wimp. I remember passing out when I had my first tequila. Great topic and shared.
Om Paramapoonya (author) on October 06, 2012:
@watergeek - Thanks for stopping by, watergeek. I wish our Hubaholics team would all get together some day and have a Margarita feast!
@PWalker - Glad you enjoyed the hub, PWalker! I've heard that in order to avoid a tequila hangover, you should only choose the brands that are made with 100% agave, not the ones mixed with other sugars.
@leahlefler - Hehehe Sorry for disappointing you, Leah! I actually wish tequila was a health food, too.
Om Paramapoonya (author) on October 06, 2012:
@akirchner - I don't like drinking it straight, either. I love tequila cocktails, though. And yes, tequila tofu shakes sound awesome! LOL
@Goodlady - Yep, I agree it's a super fun drink! The tequila worms are not part of the fun, though.....at least not for me. Thanks so much for your comment and pin, Penelope!
@The PracticalMommy - Yeah, 8 - 14 drinks a week sound a bit too much for me, too. I'd rather do other things to prevent dementia, such as taking vitamin B supplements and doing puzzles!
@Just Ask Susan - Glad to know you're a tequila lover. Thanks for dropping by!
Leah Lefler from Western New York on October 05, 2012:
Bummer - I was hoping that your hub was going to say tequila was a health food! Oh, well - I suppose I'll keep sipping those margaritas... in moderation. Great article, Om!
PWalker281 on October 05, 2012:
Oh well, no real health benefits from my favorite alcohol except for the one about dementia. At my age, I need all the help I can get :-).
Tequila (and only certain brands) is the only hard liquor I can drink without getting a hangover (if I limit my consumption to one mixed drink (sometimes 2 :-)) in any given day.
Thanks for the list of mixed drinks besides a Margarita (my favorite) that tequila is used in. Maybe I'll try a few. Thanks for sharing your research! Voted up and shared.
Susette Horspool from Pasadena CA on October 05, 2012:
I hardly ever drink, but when I used to go out with my Hispanic work buddies, I'd have a margarita or two (small ones). I've tried a couple of others on your chart too in the past. I think I'd like to try Frostbite and maybe a Mojito Diablo someday. Interesting article and great title.
Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on October 05, 2012:
I've always enjoyed tequila and happy to read that it may be good for me.
Marissa from United States on October 05, 2012:
Yummy margaritas.. To think that all this time I might have been potentially helping myself when consuming tequila!
Very interesting research here. The fact that tequila might help with dementia has piqued my curiosity, but I don't know about drinking 8-14 alcoholic drinks in one week, every week. Seems like too much to me!
Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on October 05, 2012:
Pinning this Hub! I used to drink too much tequila back in the day because lets face it, one wasn't enough. The floor wasn't a bad place to land! It's that 'shot' thing. We looked for the Tequila that had worms in it and I think I was too far gone to actually remember anyone eating those worms. I couldn't touch it now. But it's a fun drink for when you're young and partying. Love the way you went off to research those tidbits of information and came back with all this information. Appreciate it. Thanks. Voting etc.
Audrey Kirchner from Washington on October 05, 2012:
Gosh Om--I think I need to switch to tequila--the health benefits for stress and dementia at my age would be perfect. I do use it in cooking to be honest but I'm not a huge fan "straight" and never have been. But mixed in with other things---better~ I didn't know though all these healthy properties of tequila so maybe I'd better start guzzling more...maybe I could make up some tequila tofu protein shakes for Bob! He's older than I am so they might really help~~~ Great job (as always)....
Om Paramapoonya (author) on October 05, 2012:
@Vega Vallari - I never knew you had such a great bond with tequila. Now I start to feel like you might even like "her" better than me. Please tell me our friendship is stronger than that! LOL
@carol7777 - Margarita is one of my favorite cocktails, too. Thanks for dropping by, Carol :)
carol stanley from Arizona on October 05, 2012:
I always enjoy a good Margarita. Thanks for sharing some information here that will make me feel better when I have my next one. Very interesting and Voting UP.
Nicole Paschal from Saint Petersburg, Florida on October 04, 2012:
This is a very heartfelt article for me. Tequila has followed me through most major events of my life and I look forward to the rest of our journey together. Thanks for honoring her, Om, and quite well researched! Voted up!