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HomeHealth & FitnessIs Tequila Good For You? Health Benefits Explained

Is Tequila Good For You? Health Benefits Explained

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When it comes to alcohol, everyone has their preference. Personally, I’m an Aperol spritz stan and the mere thought of vodka makes me nauseous. But in the name of health, some booze is arguably better for you than others, and tequila usually ranks high on the list — which may be a surprise to anyone who’s woken up with a gnarly hangover after one too many Tequila Sunrises. So we asked RDNs to tell it to us straight: is tequila good for you, actually?

First and foremost, when used in this context “good” is a loose term. Tequila is not “good” for you like water is “good” for you. That said, tequila can be a healthier option than other alcoholic drinks, says Gowri Reddy Rocco, MD, a double-board certified family medicine and regenerative, anti-aging, and functional medicine physician.

But are there any health benefits to tequila? And what are the risks of the party favorite spirit? Keep reading for everything you need to know about tequila, according to experts.

Experts Featured in This Article

Gowri Reddy Rocco, MD, a double-board certified family medicine and regenerative, anti-aging, and functional medicine physician.

Kimberly Gomer, RDN, a Miami-based registered dietitian.

What Is Tequila?

Tequila is a distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant, says Kimberly Gomer, RDN, a Miami-based registered dietitian. The drink is most often made in Mexico and is typically composed of 40 to 60 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), or 80 to 120 proof, she says.

The booze is made from the heart of the agave plant (also known as the piña), and depending on the bottle, you can find 100 percent agave, 100 percent blue agave, or 100 percent agave azul tequila, though some brands contain added cane sugar, Gomer says. Just note that tequila is made with agavins, a natural, less refined form of the sugar fructose, not to be confused with agave nectar, Dr. Rocco adds.

Is Tequila Healthier Than Other Alcohols?

It depends. Because tequila is made of agavins, it has a lower glycemic index of sugar than other alcohols like wine, beer, or mixed cocktails, Dr. Rocco says. Consequently, it may be a safer option for diabetics or those trying to limit their sugar intake, she says. Just keep in mind that combining tequila with sugary mixes negates any potential low-carb or low-sugar pros, Gomer says. (Hence the Tequila Sunrise hangovers.)

Tequila is also distilled and gluten-free, so it may be a better choice compared to beer for folks who need to avoid gluten, Gomer notes.

But if you’ve ever heard the rumor that someone with celiac or a gluten intolerance who’s accidentally ingested gluten can take a shot of tequila to help minimize the after-effects, ignore it. Both Dr. Rocco and Gomer agree that there’s *no* scientific evidence to back the claim.

Health Benefits of Tequila

While tequila has less refined sugars than other alcohols, there aren’t any health benefits of the drink itself, per se.

Agavin may support calcium absorption, which can help prevent bone loss or osteoporosis, Dr. Rocco says. She says that agavin fructans are also be considered a prebiotic and probiotic, so a single shot before or after a meal may help with digestion — but since tequila is fermented, it’s unlikely those health benefits make it to the shot glass.

Ultimately, any potential upsides aren’t so significant that anyone should add tequila to their diet in the hopes of tapping into them. There are other ways to boost bone and gut health that don’t come with the downsides of regular alcohol ingestion (see more on those, below).

You also need to be mindful of the type of tequila you’re buying because not all tequilas are created equal, Dr. Rocco says. “To get the best benefits of tequila, you need to get the ‘top shelf’ stuff made from 100 percent agave.” Many tequilas have additional sugar, additives, and coloring, which can cancel out any health advantages, so it’s important to see what you’re actually buying, Gomer adds.

Are There Any Downsides or Risks to Tequila?

The truth is, tequila (and any alcohol for that matter) is toxic to the body, Gomer says. Frequent drinking can increase your odds of dependency and addictions, poor sleep, a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, dementia, obesity, depression, and anxiety, Dr. Rocco says. Frequent alcohol consumption is also linked to cancer, liver damage, and elevated triglycerides, Gomer adds.

On top of that, tequila not entirely made from the blue agave plant (commonly known as “mixtro”), usually contains fructose, glucose sugars, and added gluten which can spike your blood sugar, Dr. Rocco says. “Getting the traditional 100 percent blue agave tequila, even if it’s more expensive, is best if you’re drinking to avoid high sugars and any gluten exposure.”

The Bottom Line

Tequila is made of less refined sugars than other alcohols, Dr. Rocco says. So if you’re going to drink anyway, choosing a 100% blue agave tequila, and drinking it without any sugary mixers, may give you a slight health benefit over choosing a different form of alcohol.

Even so, alcohol is addictive and can have negative consequences, so moderation – in amount and frequency – is the name of the tequila game.

Andi Breitowich is a Chicago-based freelance writer and graduate from Emory University and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Her work has appeared in PS, Women’s Health, Cosmopolitan, and elsewhere.

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