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Liquors That Are Gluten-Free (& Beneficial In Other Ways)

Yay! Some alcoholic drinks are as good for you as they are to you.

Food & Drink

Something that is so dope about you, our readers, is that you're all so different. So many different perspectives, insights and opinions regularly hop onto our platform to help spice things up. We dig that. We really do. We also like the moments when everyone is on the same page; like when it comes to red wine. Chile, if there's one thing that at least 95.6 percent of you seem to have in your possession, it's a bottle of that.

As I was thinking about how I could finesse that reality into a "drink and be merry" piece for the holiday season, I happened upon a few articles that discussed the benefits of consuming alcoholic drinks that are gluten-free. Gluten-free alcohol? I never really thought about that before. And of course, being the inquisitive researcher that I am, the notion sent me down the rabbit hole of looking for other health benefits that come from having a drink or two—or few.

If stopping by your local liquor store is most definitely on your to-do list during the last leg of the holiday season, here are some of the alcoholic drinks that will do more than keep you toasty and get you tipsy. These picks are actually pretty damn good for you, too. But first, let's address a few health-related questions you might have had about alcohol but never got around to getting answers to.

What Kind of Alcohol Is Gluten-Free?

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Let's start with this: "Gluten-free" is a popular term in the health-food community. If you've ever wondered exactly what gluten is, it's basically the two proteins—prolamins and glutelins—that give cereal grains (especially wheat) its elastic texture. Consuming it is definitely a no-no for people who have celiac disease, however, if you've been eating things such as cereal grains, soy sauce, chicken broth, condiments, or those veggie burgers that everyone's been raving about, and you immediately feel icky afterwards, you should probably take an allergy test. You may be allergic to gluten.

And what about liquors that contain gluten? Beer is a big one, however, if you decide to look for the kind of alcoholic drinks that are made from pure distilled liquor, you should be all good. (Yes, even when it comes to beer.) Alcoholic drinks that are gluten-free after distillation include whiskey, tequila, bourbon, gin, vodka, scotch, and brandy.

What Are the Health “Pros” of Consuming Alcohol?

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When it comes to consuming alcohol, I'm pretty sure you already know that moderation is key. If you're careful about how much you toss back, having a drink can actually prove to be pretty beneficial on the health tip. Beer is rich in B vitamins, and both beer and wine can lower your risk of getting kidney stones. Hard apple cider is packed with antioxidants. Moderate consumption of alcohol overall can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, even diabetes.

The key is to have no more than a couple of glasses of your favorite drink a week (unless it's red wine; you can have a glass of that daily) and to try and drink the higher quality stuff as often as possible. If you stick to those two rules (and don't drive right after consuming alcohol, of course), you should be able to enjoy your favorite liquor without any worry or guilt.

What Are the Health “Cons” of Consuming Alcohol?

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Almost anything in life that has its pros also has its cons. As far as the downside of alcohol goes, a read that you might want to check out is "Here's What Happens to Your Brain When You Drink Alcohol". It mentions effects from a spike in dopamine levels and potential memory loss to insomnia and brain-cell deterioration. As for us women, we've got to be even more cautious because our bodies do not naturally produce what is known as the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme, an enzyme that helps to break down alcohol when it hits our stomach and liver.

Knowing all of this won't stop me from consuming alcohol from time to time. What it will do is prevent a sista from becoming a lush. Again, alcohol isn't the devil by any stretch, but it can become your worst enemy if you're not responsible with your drinking.

So, Just What Are the Healthiest Alcoholic Drinks?

Red Wine

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Red wine is good for you on so many different levels. It's got a ton of antioxidants to keep your immune system in good condition, silicon to help increase bone density, and properties to keep cancer cells at bay. The resveratrol that's in red wine also triggers an anti-aging protein in your system that can help to keep you looking younger for longer while also increasing your longevity in the process. Some other wonderful benefits when it comes to red wine consumption is it reduces stress, helps ward off depression, and can remove bacteria-causing tooth decay. It's also been shown to be a libido booster in women, which is always a big benefit.

Vodka

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The fermented grains in vodka actually make it a disinfectant and antitoxin drink that is as great on your body as it is inside of it. For example, if you dab a cotton ball into vodka and put it on your pimples, it can kill the bacteria and reduce inflammation. If you use it as a hair rinse on your shampoo days, it can fight the bacteria that causes dandruff and even promote hair growth. You can also rub a little vodka on your chest to reduce a fever fairly quickly. Internally, vodka contains no sugar and can contribute to lowering cholesterol levels too.

Bloody Mary

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A Bloody Mary is most definitely an acquired taste. I mean, just think about what's in it—tomato juice, tabasco sauce, pepper, vodka, salt, and lemon juice. Still, if a crunk V-8 is your thing, the antioxidants in tomato juice (as well as the lemon juice that's in a Bloody Mary) can fight off free radicals, the fiber can keep you regular, and the vitamins C and E, lycopene and beta-carotene can keep your heart healthy. For detoxification of your system, it has chlorine and sulfur and the Vitamin K that's in it can keep your bones nice and strong.

Rum

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Rum is what's left after distilled sugarcane molasses or juice ferments. The liquid ages in oak barrels and there you have it—rum! As far as health benefits, if you consume around 1 ½ oz, rum can help reduce anxiety, relieve muscle aches and pain, boost your immune system, make arthritis less uncomfortable and, some studies even say, can reduce your chances of having a heart attack (due to it being a blood thinner) or being diagnosed with dementia.

Whiskey

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If your grandma is constantly trying to get you to drink a hot toddy when you're sick, it's not an old wives' tale. The reason why it's so effective is, in part, due to the whiskey that's in it. Whiskey serves as a decongestant because alcohol is able to dilate your blood vessels so that your mucus membranes can help to heal your infection. That's not all that whiskey is able to do. It's the kind of drink that can help to regulate your blood sugar levels, reduce stress and, because it's a low-calorie drink, a moderate amount of whiskey consumption won't cause you to pack on the pounds either.

Tequila

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If you're gonna do a few tequila (which is made from blue agave) shots, it's best to stick to no more than 1-2 shots at a time. If you do, it can increase your metabolism and even help you to get a sounder night's sleep. Two other awesome benefits of tequila are it's a prebiotic (which means that it supports healthy gut bacteria) and, if you drink the high-end kind, it's highly unlikely that you'll wake up with a hangover. Pretty cool, huh?

Champagne

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If you're looking for an alcoholic drink that is proven to be a real libido booster, a tall glass of champagne is exactly what you're looking for. A real plus that comes with champagne is it can increase blood circulation to your nether regions without zapping your energy levels in the process.

Some other good things about champagne is, like red wine, it's got antioxidants in it that are good for your heart; it contains proteins that can help to keep your short-term memory sharp and, the magnesium, potassium and zinc that it contains can keep you feeling really happy and upbeat.

So, what are you waiting for? Pick up a bottle on your way home; it should make for a really good time (especially if you're not alone) over the holiday season. #drinkup

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Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

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