Gin Is Often Called the ‘Healthiest’ Alcohol. Here’s Why
What if you could experience multiple health benefits while also enjoying a delicious cocktail? Choosing a healthy alcohol can allow you to make healthy lifestyle changes without giving up drinking. That way, you can still enjoy going to events, hanging out with friends, or drinking a cocktail at happy hour. Gin’s health benefits are varied thanks to its primary ingredient, juniper berries. So are you ready to make the switch to the healthiest alcohol?
The Healthy History of Gin
Gin’s reputation for being a healthy alcohol dates back centuries. While some beliefs of medicinal benefits were misguided, others had some merit. These long-established beliefs helped to solidify a reputation for gin’s health benefits.
In the 11th century, Benedictine monks in Italy first distilled juniper berries in the first versions of gin. The distilled liquid was viewed more as a medicinal drink during this time. However, juniper berries were already long used to treat liver, stomach, and kidney issues. So it was a natural transition to use the distilled juniper berries in medicine. Juniper-based tonics were also popular in Dutch and Belgian cultures. The tonic would be mixed with other herbs and flowers to create a custom treatment for the individual. These first medicinal applications help solidify juniper berries and gin as healthy.
The Black Plague unflinchingly swept through Europe in the 14th century. People drank juniper cordials and tonics with the mistaken belief that it would protect them from catching the plague.
While people may have misunderstood how the plague spread, they did get some of it correct. Juniper berries worked so well in medicine because they are antibacterial and antifungal. When gin contains juniper essential oil, it takes on these same qualities.
It wasn’t until the 15th century that recognizable gin recipes began to make their first appearance. This was when the distillation process became more refined. Instead of being a cloudy drink meant for treating medical issues, it evolved into a more clear liquid that was enjoyable to drink. Additional flavors were added to the juniper berries. What was once a purely medicinal drink became closer to the gin we enjoy today as a recreational beverage.
Gin’s Health Benefits and Nutrition Facts
Before getting into gin’s health benefits, it is best to start with the nutritional facts. According to metrics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one shot has less than 100 calories, no fat, sugar, or carbs. Keep in mind that these nutrition facts are based on a measurement of one shot and do not factor in the addition of other ingredients. If you consume a gin cocktail, the nutrition facts will change based on the mixer, or other ingredients added. If you consume more than one shot, you will multiply these amounts by the number of shots you consume.
- Calories: 97
- Fat: 0g
- Sodium: 0.42mg
- Carbohydrates: 0g
- Fiber: 0g
- Sugars: 0g
- Protein: 0g
- Alcohol: 14g
Trace Amounts of Vitamins and Minerals
In addition to the basic nutritional information, gin has trace amounts of vitamins and minerals. While drinking gin won’t give your daily recommended amount of these vitamins and minerals, it could contribute to you reaching your daily intake goals.
- Iron .017 mg
- Phosphorus 1.68 mg
- Potassium .84 mg
- Sodium .42 mg
- Zinc .017 mg
- Copper .009 mg
- Thiamin .003 mg
- Riboflavin .002 mg
- Niacin .005 mg
Your body uses iron in red blood cell production, which helps carry oxygen throughout your body. Phosphorus is an important mineral that influences how your body processes fats and carbs. Potassium helps your body maintain proper fluid levels in your cells. This is crucial for maintaining healthy blood pressure and muscle function.
Traditional gin is made from juniper berries. While juniper berries have plenty of health benefits, there are modern varieties that could offer additional benefits. Modern gin offerings come infused with fruit, tea leaves, florals, or herbs. This could give you increased health benefits from these additional ingredients.
Gin’s Health Benefits
The idea of drinking healthy alcohol has become more popular as people look to live an all-around healthy lifestyle. This has led them to consider the health benefits of the alcohol they are drinking. Gin’s health benefits have led people to take a renewed interest in this classic alcohol.
Juniper Berry Antioxidants
Similar to other berries, juniper berries contain antioxidants. The idea is that gin retains the antioxidants, so they become a part of gin’s healthy benefits. The berries originate from the rugged landscape of Scotland. This made the berries tough and full of flavonoids and Vitamin C. The combination of antioxidants and Vitamin C makes the berries effective at fighting infections, cancer, and gut problems. They may also help ease the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, which is inflammation of the joints. The juniper compounds also strengthen the joint’s connective tissues, helping to reduce future inflammation causing pain. However, many of these suggested benefits are anecdotal and have not been proven by scientific studies.
Gin’s Health Benefits and Cardiovascular Health
Regular moderate alcohol consumption can contribute to better cardiovascular and heart health. The key here is to not overdrink. This means no more than one drink daily for women and no more than two per day for men. Studies have found that limited regular consumption of alcohol helped people reduce their risk of stroke, congestive heart failure, and coronary artery disease.
One study went beyond the benefits of alcohol, in general, to look at the cardiovascular health benefits of gin specifically. It found that gin’s health benefits were on par with red wine. Both alcohols help reduce inflammatory biomarkers for atherosclerosis. So if red wine is not your thing, you could enjoy a gin drink instead and still get heart-healthy benefits.
You’ll enjoy a long and happy life with a reduced risk of life-threatening diseases like heart disease and cancer. You can also continue to drink gin throughout your life, as cardiovascular diseases become more threatening as you get older.
Diabetes Prevention and Management
According to one study, enjoying a cocktail could reduce your overall risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. However, there is a delicate balance between the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption and managing glucose levels. This is where gin’s health benefits become important. The nutritional facts for gin are listed earlier in this article. You will notice that gin has zero carbs. This makes it a good alcohol option for someone looking to reduce their risk of diabetes or someone who has diabetes. In addition, a traditional gin cocktail uses tonic water as the mixer. It is low in sugar, helping to keep the drink diabetic-friendly. In comparison, other alcohol types would get mixed with high-sugar juices and sodas.
Gin’s Health Benefits and Bone Health
One of gin’s health benefits could be improved bone health. A study looked at the relationship between alcohol consumption and bone health. Enjoy one to two gin cocktails two to three times a week, and you could have higher bone mineral density. The key to enjoying these benefits was hitting the right amount of alcohol intake. Those who do not drink alcohol at all and those who over imbibe have increased risks of osteoporosis.
One study found that juniper berries contained antioxidants, the same ones you would find in tea tree oil. These antioxidants have a proven track record of promoting healthy and better-looking skin. Another study looked at the potential benefits of juniper berry essential oil. It had a positive effect on aging skin by reducing the look and development of wrinkles while also maintaining the skin’s elasticity. However, do not put gin directly onto your skin. The alcohol will have a drying effect that strips the skin of much-needed natural oils.
Gin’s Health Benefits and Stress Reduction
Drinking a mild or moderate amount of alcohol can help you reduce your stress levels. So gin can be your drink of choice after a stressful day. Modern research has also found that moderate alcohol consumption could help you rebound faster when you experience high stress. However, alcohol should not be your only go-to method for dealing with stress. In addition, consuming an excessive amount of alcohol can have the opposite effect, contributing to increased stress levels.
Prevent UTIs and Bloating
Drinking gin may help you with preventing urinary tract infections or bloating. When you eat juniper berries, they act like a diuretic, increasing your trips to the bathroom. This increase in bathroom trips means reduced water retention. Increased urination also helps flush toxins and bacteria from your body. With this active flushing, you reduce the risk of infections. If you do experience a UTI, increased urination can help flush out the bacteria.
Traditional gin is a vegan-friendly, healthy alcohol. The base alcohol recipe of juniper berries and botanicals does not use any animal products. However, be aware that not all gin is vegan-friendly. Some varieties have honey or oysters added, which would make them no longer vegan friendly.
Gin’s Health Benefits As a Gluten-Free Option
For individuals who practice a gluten-free diet, gin can easily fit into it. Traditional gin is gluten free and safe for consumption by those with celiac disease. The distillation process removes any gluten that may be present in the wheat, barley, or rye used in the recipe. However, note that this applies to plain gin and may not apply to gin with added ingredients.
Antifungal Foot Bath
While many of the gin health benefits focus on drinking alcohol, there are some benefits that don’t require you to imbibe. As mentioned earlier, juniper and, therefore, gin has antifungal properties. You can use gin to make yourself a footbath to kill any fungus that you may struggle with. It will also kill off odor-causing bacteria.
Keep Malaria at Bay
If you plan to travel somewhere that may struggle with malaria, consider switching up your favorite cocktail for a gin and tonic. Not only do you get to enjoy gin’s health benefits, but you also benefit from the tonic used in the drink. The tonic contains quinine, which is effective at preventing malaria.
Gin’s Health Benefits As Digestive Aids
If you feel like an after dinner drink, consider a gin cocktail. First, juniper berries can help quell any heartburn you may feel. Second, the bitters used when making gin can help aid in the digestion of the meal you just consumed. Your stomach will begin producing more acid and digestive enzymes. This helps your body break down and digest food better. The long-term benefit is a more productive digestive experience with less bloating and water retention.
Maintain Healthy Weight
Alcohol consumption is often linked to weight gain and obesity. However, gin is relatively low in calories, making it a fairly healthy alcohol. For example, the gin and tonic cocktail. Combine the low-calorie intake with the previous digestive benefits, and you do not have to give up drinking to maintain a healthy weight. Always drink in moderation and avoid sugary drinks or those that contain high-calorie ingredients.
Consider gin’s health benefits before making your next cocktail or favorite drink! And let Distillery Nearby help you find all the best distillery tour experiences, too.