How to Make Your Happy Hour Healthy

How to Make Your Happy Hour Healthy

A glass of wine and a tasty meal can do wonders for your health.

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By Taylor Lupo

For years, wine has been touted for its health benefits—and with good reason. Wine, and other cocktails, may be good for your heart and could even tack years onto your life.

To reap the benefits, however, it’s important to consume alcohol in moderation, or one standard drink a day for women, and two for men. Depending on your cocktail of choice, the size of a “standard” drink varies: 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits or 12 ounces of beer.

Studies suggest moderate drinking reduces risks of heart disease and related deaths, stroke and diabetes. The connection between heart health and moderate drinking is still somewhat unclear, but “there have been some recent studies about red wine's antioxidant effects, in moderation,” says family practitioner, Wenny Jean, MD of Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, Kansas.

Antioxidants found in alcoholic drinks, or perhaps the alcohol itself, may boost HDL or “good” cholesterol levels, while reducing blood clotting and inflammation. “Pyrethrins is the antioxidant in red wine. It not only lowers the risk of heart disease, but also stroke,” Jean says.

Know the risks of overindulging

2 / 7 Know the risks of overindulging

Despite the potential benefits, there may be some risks associated with drinking, too. Excessive drinking, more than four or five drinks in one sitting, can up your risk for dementia, cancer, depression, anxiety and even high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

If you don’t already enjoy a daily cocktail or two, there is no need to start. But if you do, pairing your drink of choice with a healthy (and delicious) dish is a tasty way to take in extra nutrients.

Pinot Noir

3 / 7 Pinot Noir

In addition to providing antioxidants, pinot noir also has an array of flavors, like berries, vanilla and oak to name a few. The earthy tones pair well with similar flavors, like mushrooms. Enjoy this wine with a potassium-rich grilled portabella mushroom cap or a side of sauteed mushrooms, which promote proper cell and tissue function.


4 / 7 Cabernet

This deep red wine with a flavor of cherry, pepper and espresso, is a fantastic accompaniment to an Italian dish, like a homemade tomato sauce. Opt for a whole wheat pasta or, better yet, spaghetti squash!

Spaghetti squash contains only 40 calories per cup, and is loaded with fiber and vitamin C, which help promote regularity and weight loss, and boost your immune system.

Cannonau Di Sardegna

5 / 7 Cannonau Di Sardegna

Bursting with berry flavor, this wine pairs well with rich dark chocolate, which boasts its own benefits. Dark chocolate helps promote heart health, and can lower blood pressure. “We don't recommend more than one ounce of dark chocolate and it has to be greater than 70 percent cocoa dark chocolate to have an antioxidant effect,” Jean says.

Pinot Grigio

6 / 7 Pinot Grigio

A crisp white wine, like pinot grigio, has flavors of lemon, pear and apple that complement seafood, like shrimp. Fish, like shrimp and salmon, are abundant in nutrients like vitamins B12 and E.

Shrimp is also a good source of iron, with about 15 percent of the daily recommended value. Vitamin B12 is required for proper blood cell formation, and iron promotes a healthy metabolism and cell function.


7 / 7 Riesling

Prep a bowl of an Asian-inspired salad, and enjoy with a chilled glass of Riesling, bursting with flavors like apricot, apple and pear. Start with a bed of greens, like bok choy, and top with mandarin oranges. A quarter cup of this sweet addition contains only 25 calories, but is packed with vitamins A and C.

Before you head to the package store, start your journey for a longer, healthier life by taking the RealAge Test, which measures your body’s age, based on family history and lifestyle factors. If your RealAge is lower than your biological age, you’re on the right track. If not, we’ll give you personalized recommendations for lowering your RealAge.

Alcohol & Health

Alcohol & Health

Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol daily, such as two 12-ounce beers or two 5-ounce glasses of wine, offers some health benefits, especially for the heart. It can reduce your risk of developing heart disease and peripheral vascu...

lar disease, lowers your risk of developing gallstones, and possibly reduces your risk of stroke and diabetes. Anything more than moderate drinking can lead to serious health problems, however, including strokes; pancreatitis; cancer of the liver, pancreas, mouth, larynx or esophagus; heart-muscle damage; high blood pressure; and cirrhosis of the liver.