Alcohol and Health
Recommended Alcohol Consumption
The UK government advises that regular consumption of 3-4 units a day for men and 2-3 units a day for women does not pose significant health risks. However, consistently drinking 4 or more units a day (men) or 3 or more units a day (women) is not advisable, and it is recommended that you have at least two alcohol-free days per week. The difference between genders is given due to the (typically) lower weight and water-to-body-mass-ratio of women.
It is also worth pointing out that the effects of alcohol depend not only on the amount of consumption, but also on the rate, and rapid drinking can cause more damage to the liver.
What comprises a unit of alcohol...
A unit of alcohol is equivalent to 10 milliliters of pure ethanol (the active chemical ingredient in alcoholic beverages).
The number of units of alcohol in a drink can be determined by multiplying the volume of the drink (in milliliters) by its % ABV and
dividing by 1000.
Thus a glass of wine (125 ml) at 12.5% ABV equates to:
125 x 12.5
1000 = 1.6 units
Alcohol consumed in moderation has been linked by certain studies in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. Alcohol consumption in conjunction with high intakes of fruit and vegetables may also explain the so-called 'French paradox'. The French diet is relatively high in saturated fat, yet the death rate from coronary heart disease remains relatively low. It is thought that this is partly due to compounds in red wine that counteract saturated fats.
Alcohol is a high source of energy, providing 7 calories per gram of alcohol. It is often referred to as a source of 'empty calories', meaning that it has no nutritive value other than providing energy. This isn't strictly true as some alcoholic drinks contain sugars and traces of vitamins and minerals, although not usually in amounts that make any significant contribution to the diet.
The energy provided by an alcoholic drink depends on the percentage of alcohol it contains. It is difficult to give the calorie (kcal) content for an alcoholic drink in general, due to the variance in alcohol content, and this must be considered when looking at the following values.
|Wines, small glass (125ml)
||Typical Kcal content
|Rose wine, medium
|Sweet white wine
|Dry white wine
|Medium white wine
|Sparkling white wine
|Fortified wine (50ml)
||Typical Kcal content