We know all about the awful shit that’ll happen to you if drink too much: Shorter life expectancy. Liver disease. Nerve damage. Ulcers. Decreased cognitive function over time. But what about all the good stuff? Doesn’t a glass of wine a night prevent heart attacks and high blood pressure? And doesn’t a glass of whisky soothe a sore throat? Totally says conventional wisdom — and sometimes science, too. In fact, here are at least seven good things booze can do for your health according to actual scientific findings…
1) It May Be the Fountain of Youth. A 2006 study by the Catholic University of Campobasso in Italy reported that drinking less than four drinks (for men) or two drinks (for women) per day could reduce the risk of death by 18 percent. “Little amounts, preferably during meals, appears to be the right way [to drink alcohol],” explained Giovanni de Gaetano, one of the study’s authors. “This is another feature of the Mediterranean diet, where alcohol, wine above all, is the ideal partner of a dinner or lunch. But that’s all: The rest of the day must be absolutely alcohol-free.”
2) It May Lower Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease. In 2005, the School of Public Health at Harvard University found that “moderate amounts of alcohol raises levels of high-density lipoprotein, HDL, or ‘good’ cholesterol and higher HDL levels are associated with greater protection against heart disease. Moderate alcohol consumption has also been linked with beneficial changes ranging from better sensitivity to insulin to improvements in factors that influence blood clotting. … Such changes would tend to prevent the formation of small blood clots that can block arteries in the heart, neck and brain, the ultimate cause of many heart attacks and the most common kind of stroke.”
3) It’s Viagra-Adjacent. Contrary to popular opinion, newer research has found that moderate drinking might actually protect against erectile dysfunction in the same way that drinking red wine might benefit heart disease. In a 2009 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers found that the chances of erectile dysfunction were reduced by 25 to 30 percent among alcohol drinkers. “Compared with never-drinkers, the age-adjusted odds of ED were lower among current, weekend and binge drinkers and higher among ex-drinkers, said lead researcher, Kew-Kim Chew, an epidemiologist at the University of West Australia, who conducted the study with 1,770 Australian men.
4) It’s Full of Antioxidants. The department of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University found in 1993 that while susceptibility to the common cold was increased by smoking, moderate alcohol consumption led to a decrease in common cold cases for nonsmokers. Almost a decade later, according to The New York Times, Spanish researchers found that drinking eight to 14 glasses of wine per week, particularly red wine, could lead to a 60-percent reduction in the risk of developing a cold. The scientists suspected that this had something to do with the antioxidant properties of wine.
5) It Can Help Prevent Dementia. In a study that’s included more than 365,000 participants since 1977, as reported in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, moderate drinkers were 23 percent less likely to develop cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. “Small amounts of alcohol might, in effect, make brain cells more fit. Alcohol in moderate amounts stresses cells and thus toughens them up to cope with major stresses down the road that could cause dementia,” Edward J. Neafsey, a co-author of the study, told Science Daily in 2011.
“We don’t recommend that nondrinkers start drinking,” Neafsey added. “But moderate drinking — if it is truly moderate — can be beneficial.”
6) It Reduces the Risk of Gallstones. Drinking about a beer and a half per day can reduce the risk of gallstones — pieces of solid material that form in the gallbladder — by one-third, according to researchers at the University of East Anglia. The researchers believed that alcohol might reduce gallstones through its effects on cholesterol, but the magnitude of the effect hadn’t been calculated.
7) It Can Lower the Chance of Diabetes. Results of a Dutch study in 2005 showed that healthy adults who drink one to two glasses of liquor per day have a decreased chance of developing type 2 diabetes, in comparison to those who don’t drink at all. “The results of the investigation show that moderate alcohol consumption can play a part in a healthy lifestyle to help reduce the risk of developing diabetes type 2,” researchers said in a statement to Reuters.
So drink up! Just don’t get fucked up—too often.