alcoholic drinks
Diet & Nutrition

The Hidden Health Hazard in Alcohol

Editor’s note: Junk food (and beverages) are heavy on what experts call empty calories – i.e. the calories add up, but without any benefit to you. They won’t leave you satisfied until your next meal, in other words. Here, in a Mayo Clinic Minute broadcast program, Donald Hensrud, M.D., director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, shares what you need to know about sugar in alcohol. After reading this, you just may decide to stick to sparkling water.

“A food such as sugar contains calories but no nutrients,” Hensrud explains in the broadcast. Sugary drinks lack fiber, vitamins and minerals.

While a lot of attention has been paid to sugary sodas and their role in obesity, Hensrud emphasizes that alcohol is also full of empty calories.

“Even though the guidelines say up to one to two drinks a day,” Hensrud says, “it’s not a good idea to drink every day.”

According to the Mayo Clinic Diet Book, a five-ounce glass of wine equals 100 calories. Just one shot of 80-proof alcohol is also about 100 calories, the Mayo Minute broadcast says. A mix in the drink results in even more calories. Additionally, a 12-ounce beer is 150 calories – and many people don’t have just one.

That in turn leads to unwelcome weight gain. “We’ve got to store those calories someplace,” Hensrud says.

As the program says, that’s something to think about before your next toast.

For more information on health, visit www.mayoclinic.org.