Skip to content

One Major Side Effect of Drinking Whiskey, Say Experts

You may reap this surprising benefit.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino
drinking whiskey

While we certainly don't suggest drinking whiskey every day (moderation is key, especially when it comes to alcohol) there is at least one side effect associated with consuming the popular spirit that is enough to justify the occasional Manhattan or old-fashioned.

According to Diana Gariglio-Clelland, RD, CDE, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist at Next Luxury, drinking whiskey might help protect you from developing heart disease. "Whiskey contains phenols, which can act as antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect cells from damage, helping to reduce inflammation," she explains. "Antioxidants may also help reduce the risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States." (Related: Surprising Side Effects of Drinking Alcohol, Say Experts.)

And while phenols are also found in red wine, tomatoes, and apples, the phenols contained in whiskey specifically might actually lower your chances of developing heart disease. "A Scottish study found a significant increase in phenol concentration 30 minutes after test subjects drank 100 milliliters of whiskey," according to Gariglio-Clelland.

She adds: "The study concluded that moderate alcohol consumption (emphasis on the 'moderate') may help reduce the risk of heart disease because of the phenolic content and its ability to act as an antioxidant." (Related:

In other words, the next time you pour yourself a glass of whiskey, know that it could be beneficial for your heart.

However, just because there's scientific evidence to suggest that the occasional glass of whiskey could be beneficial for your heart, doesn't mean the boozy beverage won't leave you feeling pretty lousy if you drink too much of it.

"Whiskey, along with other forms of alcohol, produces several physiologic side effects that lead to hangovers," notes Trista Best, RD, a registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements. "First, alcohol causes an increase in urination, which can lead to dehydration and ultimately severe headaches."

Best adds: "Headaches associated with hangovers are also a result of alcohol causing blood vessels to expand. Nausea and vomiting are exacerbated from alcohol irritating the lining of the stomach."

According to Best, alcohol causes an inflammatory response in the body that triggers many of the well-known hangover symptoms, including dizziness, vision problems, decreased appetite, and memory issues.

"There is a common misconception that alcohol will improve sleep when in fact it does the opposite," she explains. "Alcohol interrupts the REM cycle, which means you will get lower quality sleep when drinking."

So make sure that if you are drinking whiskey, that you're consuming it in moderation to avoid these undesirable issues, as detailed in Dangerous Side Effects of Drinking Alcohol, According to the CDC.

For more healthy eating news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!