WHAT IS MODERATE DRINKING?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the official nutrition policy of the United States, defines moderate drinking as consuming up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. (http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines)
WHAT COUNTS AS A DRINK?
According to the Dietary Guidelines, a drink-equivalent is defined as 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol) such as rum, vodka, gin and whiskey; 12 fluid ounces of regular beer (5 percent alcohol); or 5 fluid ounces of wine (12 percent alcohol). One drink contains 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol.
Since beer, wine and distilled spirits products may come in different sizes and alcohol content, these clearly defined drink-equivalent amounts are intended to serve as a guide to help consumers.
WHICH CONTAINS MORE ALCOHOL PER DRINK – BEER, WINE OR DISTILLED SPIRITS?
Each drink-equivalent contains the same amount of alcohol, 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol, and has the same effect on the body. This scientific fact is a critical aspect of responsible drinking underscored by the federal government, state driver’s manuals and consumer groups, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Remember, when it comes to drinking alcohol, there is no beverage of moderation, only the practice of moderation.
ARE THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS AND RISKS THE SAME FOR SPIRITS, BEER AND WINE?
Yes. Studies show it is the ethanol (alcohol) in all types of beverage alcohol – distilled spirits, beer or wine – that, when consumed in moderation, is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. So, while there continues to be a widespread misperception that red wine is the only type of beverage alcohol that may confer potential health benefits, alcohol is alcohol.
The Distilled Spirits Council does not recommend that people drink beverage alcohol for potential health benefits. Alcohol abuse can cause serious health and other problems. Even drinking in moderation may pose health risks for some people, and some individuals should not drink at all.
WHICH CONTAINS MORE CALORIES – DISTILLED SPIRITS, BEER, OR WINE?
According to the Dietary Guidelines, the calorie count for each drink-equivalent is:
- A 1.5-ounce drink of distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol) is 98 calories
- A 12-ounce drink of regular beer (5 percent alcohol) is about 150 calories
- A 5-ounce drink of wine (12 percent alcohol) is about 120 calories
Remember that mixers also contain calories, but sodas, tonics and juices can be substituted with lower or zero calorie versions. Garnishes such as apple or orange slices add color and flavor while keeping the calorie count down.
WHY ARE THE DIETARY GUIDELINES DIFFERENT DEPENDING ON WHETHER YOU ARE A MAN OR WOMAN?
Most people think the difference is solely based upon body weight, but this is only one factor. Women have less water in their bodies. Therefore, if a woman and a man of the same size and weight drink the same amount of alcohol, a woman is likely to reach a higher concentration of alcohol in her blood.
WHO SHOULD NOT DRINK?
According to the Dietary Guidelines, some individuals should not drink beverage alcohol, including those who are unable to control the amount they drink, anyone younger than the legal drinking age, women who are pregnant or who may be pregnant, individuals taking certain over-the-counter or prescription medications, those with certain medical conditions, or individuals who plan to drive or take part in other activities that require skill, coordination and alertness.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Socializing with colleagues over a drink or entertaining family, friends or neighbors with food and cocktails are pleasurable pastimes enjoyed by millions of American adults. For those adults who choose to drink, they should do so in moderation and responsibly.