Try my favorite cocktail at your next cookout
At the end of this month, on Memorial Day, many people will host cookouts and toast to those who have fallen in service for our country.
Of course, those outdoor gatherings will continue throughout the summer, as the days grow longer, brighter, and warmer.
And I encourage you to take advantage of the sunshine, socialization, fresh foods, and yes—even the alcohol.
In fact, research shows that pouring yourself a cold one has significant health benefits.
So, let’s take a closer look. Then, I’ll share my favorite cocktail recipe.
Moderation is key
Red wine has certainly gotten the lion’s share of the accolades when it comes to the health benefits associated with alcohol. But the fact is, in moderation, any alcohol imparts a health benefit.
I always recommend spirits because they contain less sugar than wine, champagne, or beer. (Remember my favorite hashtag? #sugarkills)
But let me reiterate that moderation is key. There’s a “u”-shaped curve when it comes to the benefits of alcohol.
Those who don’t drink any alcohol at all and those who drink more than moderately are at the highest risk for all-cause mortality. Those in the middle—who drink moderately—are at the lowest risk.
(“Moderate” drinking is typically defined as two drinks per day for women and five for men.)
And remember, despite its healthy reputation, those drinks don’t have to be glasses of wine…
Overarching benefits of alcohol
In a recent study, researchers recruited 67 men with high cardiovascular risk. Participants were randomly assigned to consume 30 grams (g) of red wine, gin, or non-alcoholic red wine per day.1
The researchers found that both red wine and gin improved “good” HDL cholesterol levels, compared to the non-alcoholic red wine group.
This suggests alcohol itself confers heart-health benefits. Not the resveratrol (and other polyphenols) red wine is so famous for containing.
Of course, it’s true resveratrol offers numerous, potential health benefits. It acts as an anti-fungal, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetes, and anti-Alzheimer’s agent—just to name a few.
But given red wine’s sugar content, you’re better off getting resveratrol from a supplement, and getting the heart-health benefits of alcohol from spirits, like gin.
Additional research supports these heart-boosting benefits, too. In fact, more than 100 different studies show that moderate drinking can lower risk of heart attack, stroke, vascular diseases, sudden cardiac arrest, and death by any cardiovascular cause by as much as 40 percent.2
And that’s not all…
Another research review featuring nearly 370,000 subjects showed that moderate drinking—from half a drink to four drinks daily—also lowered risk of type 2 diabetes, by 30 percent. (No protective effects were found among subjects who drank less or more than that daily amount.) 3
What’s in your glass?
This isn’t your green light to overindulge. Heavy drinking comes with many well-documented risks.
Instead, re-evaluate your alcohol consumption and make appropriate changes.
I actually believe stopping at two drinks is smart for most people. (If you’re ever feeling “buzzed,” that means you’ve had more than enough.)
Plus, as I mentioned above, I always recommend spirits. Stick with clear alcohols and sugar-free mixers (like club soda).
Meanwhile, beer, champagne, wine, and any cocktail that uses juice, sugar-sweetened sodas, or simple syrups all deserve a hard pass in my book.
In the end, moderate alcohol consumption may offer protective benefits to your health. And if you’re looking for a new “go-to” at your next cookout, try this simple recipe…
My favorite cocktail (simple!)
What You’ll Need:
- Martini shaker and glass
- Unflavored vodka
- Organic lime juice or a fresh lime
- Add your ice, vodka, and lime juice into your martini shaker. Shake vigorously.
- Pour it into your glass.
(You might also want to try grilling my favorite burger at your next gathering! See below.)
MY FAVORITE BURGER
(Another A-List Diet Exclusive)
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 1 tablespoon macadamia nut oil, divided
- 4 medium portobello mushroom caps
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 cups arugula
- 1 tablespoon lime mayonnaise or regular mayonnaise
- 1 large dill pickle, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 4 bacon slices, cooked
- 2 tablespoons macadamia nut oil (or olive oil, see page 4)
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 4 slices horseradish cheddar cheese
- Preheat the broiler. Heat an outdoor grill or stovetop grill pan over high heat.
- Drizzle 1/2 tablespoon of the oil onto a small baking sheet and place the mushrooms, cap-side down, on the baking sheet. Drizzle the mushrooms with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and broil for 5 minutes. Turn the caps over and broil for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, return the mushrooms to cap-side down, and leave on the baking sheet. Leave the broiler on.
- Meanwhile, combine the beef, salt, pepper, and turmeric in a bowl and gently mix. Form into four patties. Be careful not to overwork the meat or pack the patties too tightly.
- Grill the burgers for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. They should be nicely charred but not burnt, medium-rare to medium inside.
- While the patties are cooking, divide the arugula among the mushroom caps.
- In a separate small skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from the skillet and drain on a paper towel.
- Place the cooked burgers on top of the arugula. Spread some mayonnaise on each burger and top with pickles, bacon, caramelized onions, and a slice of cheese.
- Return the baking sheet to the oven and broil until the cheese melts, about 1 minute. Serve.
- “Effects of red wine polyphenols and alcohol on glucose metabolism and the lipid profile: A randomized clinical trial.” Clinical Nutrition 2012; Sept 3 (epub ahead of print)
- Goldberg IJ,et al.“Wine and your heart: a science advisory for healthcare professionals from the Nutrition Committee, Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, and Council on Cardiovascular Nursing of the American Heart Association.” Circulation. 2001 Jan 23;103(3):472-5.
- Koppes LL,et al. “Moderate alcohol consumption lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis of prospective observational studies.” Diabetes Care. 2005 Mar 1;28(3):719-25.