Alcohol and Nutrition

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Drinking alcohol responsibly is important to ensure good health. Read on for tips and guidelines to help you make wise choices when it comes to drinking alchohol. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health offers helpful, low-risk drinking guidelines*:

  • Space drinks an hour apart.
  • Drink no more than two standard drinks per drinking occasion.
  • Have no more than 15 drinks a week if you are a man.
  • Have no more than 10 drinks a week if you are a woman.

* Note, these guidelines do not apply to those who should avoid alcohol, including women who are pregnant and people who live with a medical condition such as liver disease.

What is considered one drink of alcohol?

Each of these drinks contains the same amount of alcohol.

  • Regular beer, 5% alcohol: 341 mL (12 oz)
  • Wine, 12% alcohol: 145 mL (5 oz)
  • Fortified wine such as sherry, port or vermouth, 16-18% alcohol: 85 mL (3 oz)
  • Spirits or liquor such as rum or vodka, 40% alcohol: 45 mL (1.5 oz)

Who should avoid alcohol?

Alcohol can interfere with medical treatments, medications and can be passed through breast milk. For some people, it can also increase your risks for certain health problems such as cancer. If you drink alcohol regularly, you should discuss this with your doctor.

Avoid alcohol if you:

  • Have liver disease. Alcohol will further damage the liver.
  • Want to become or are pregnant. Alcohol can harm a babies developing brain, increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and reduced birth weight. There is no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy.
  • Are trying to quit smoking.  Alcohol may make it harder for you to resist cravings.
  • Need to be alert.  For example, before driving, playing sports or operating machiner.

How can alcohol affect my health?

It all depends on how much and how often you drink. Overtime, too much alcohol can result in:

  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Sexual impotence
  • Heart problems
  • Cancer
  • Menstrual problems
  • Liver disease
  • Difficulty keeping a healthy body weight

What about the heart health benefits of alcohol?

Despite the news that limited amounts of alcohol may be heart healthy, if you don’t drink, don’t start to drink for health reasons. Keep your heart healthy by:

  • Eating right
  • Being active
  • Staying smoke free

If you choose to drink, some research has shown that for people over 45 years of age, one drink every other day may be good for your heart.

How many calories are in a drink of alcohol?

Alcohol can add extra calories that may lead to weight gain. You might be surprised how many calories are in one drink.

Drink Approximate Calories
Light beer (4% alcohol), 1 bottle or 12 oz 99
Regular beer (5% alcohol), 1 bottle or 12 oz 140
Non-alcoholic beer (0.5% alcohol), 1 can or 350 mL 210
Daiquiri, 7 oz 260
Pina Colada, 4.5 oz 245
Vodka, 1.5 oz 100
Wine (11.5% alcohol), 5 oz 100

Cutting back on alcohol

Whether it’s to help manage your blood pressure or stay at a healthy body weight, here are some ways to limit your alcohol intake:

  • Don’t drink every day.
  • Space your drinks at least one hour apart.
  • Drink water with lemon or lime to satisfy thirst.
  • Try mixing half sugar-free ginger ale and half beer.
  • Have a ‘virgin’ Caesar.
  • Choose a non-alcoholic beer.
  • If ordering wine when eating out, order it by the glass not by the bottle.
  • Mix soda water and 100% juice and drink it in a wine glass.

Find out more:

Last Update – September 27, 2018

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