NUTRITION and FITNESS

5 unexpected benefits of drinking you never knew

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We’ve all heard it: Drink in moderation or else you’ll do more harm than good.

That’s because while research suggests small amounts of booze can be good for us, drinking in excess can harm our heart, brain and waistline. According to the American Heart Association, those health perks cap out at one drink per day for women and two daily for men.

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Indeed, if you’re not a drinker, the potential benefits alone aren’t reason enough to start, Dr. Michael Levy, a Massachusetts-based  clinical psychologist and author of “Take Control of Your Drinking…and You May Not Need to Quit,” told Fox News. If you’re drinking more than what’s recommended, consider scaling back, Levy recommended.

That said, you can still feel good about enjoying a glass or two of your happy-hour beverage of choice. Here's why:

Wine
What it may be good for:
Your brain
Being a light-to-moderate tippler is associated with a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (particularly for people who don’t have the gene that makes you more prone to Alzheimer’s), per a 2012 research review published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Researchers noted that wine — which is packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidant polyphenols — seems to offer the best protection out of all types of booze.

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Beer
What it may be good for:
Your bones
Brewski is a rich source of silicon, a mineral that plays an important role in bone formation, a 2010 study in the Journal of Science and Food Agriculture suggests. Dietary sources like beer (cereal and green beans are others) may help maintain bone strength, a 2013 study published in the International Journal of Endocrinology on postmenopausal women notes. However, heavy drinking of any alcohol is linked to osteoporosis, so in this case, more is definitely not better.

Vodka
What it may be good for:
Your heart
Vino gets all the attention for its disease-busting polyphenols, but it’s the ethanol (alcohol) that does half the work, 2012 research in the journal Nutrients suggests. Ethanol helps keep blood platelets from sticking together (and potentially clotting) and increases “good” HDL cholesterol levels, according to the research.

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Whiskey
What it may be good for:
Your mood
There’s no doubt that a little alcohol can help you let go of stress. “It puts you in a different head space,” Levy said. Yet, alcohol depresses your central nervous system, and heavier drinking clearly increases depression risk, he noted. If a single-finger pour of your favorite whiskey helps you unwind at night, that’s OK, but too much may lead to mood problems — not exactly the fix you were looking for.

Champagne
What it may be good for:
Your social bonds
Time for a toast! Social drinkers tend to be richer in the friend department, likely because alcohol triggers the release of endorphins, 2016 research from Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology reveals. And a group of pals provides a strong source of emotional support. Cheers!