Whether you're meeting friends for happy hour, enjoying a few beers at a family barbecue, or just relaxing at the end of a long day with a glass of wine, for most adults, there's nothing wrong with drinking in moderation. But as you age, you may find yourself thinking more about your heart health, and wondering whether alcohol can be a part of a heart-healthy diet.
Of course, every individual has their own unique concerns about their heart and prevention of disease, and you should always consult your doctor to account for your personal health history and risks. But there are some general factors that everyone should be mindful of when it comes to heart health and alcohol, like how much added sugar or saturated fat is in the drink, how many drinks you're having, and the frequency with which you're consuming alcohol.
And for more healthy drinking tips, check out 4 Drinking Habits to Avoid If You Have Heart Disease.
Rum and Coke
"Any drink with soda is going to be unhealthy for your heart," says Young. "Considerable research has found a connection between drinking soda and an increase in heart disease and mortality."
In fact, a recent French study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that those who consistently drank either regular or diet soda had an increased risk of stroke and other forms of heart disease than those who don't consume these drinks.
In other words, whether it's regular Coke or diet, limiting your consumption of soda-mixed alcoholic drinks can help your heart health over time.
"These are made with rum, pineapple juice, coconut milk, and coconut cream, and not only are they high in sugar but the coconut cream is high in saturated fat," says Young.
Although many people assume that coconut-based products are always healthier, it's important to consume coconut oil and cream in moderation if you're watching your heart health. That's because its saturated fat content is higher, and saturated fat is known to raise LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) if consumed in excess on a regular basis. Over time, higher LDL cholesterol can contribute to heart complications.
Long Island Iced Tea
"Long Island Iced Teas are loaded with sugar and calories," says Young. "They contain a blend of alcohols along with syrup, cola, and sweet and sour mix. The mix of alcohol, sugar, and high-calorie content is unhealthy for the heart."
If you're looking for something that's easy to sip on and still packs a punch, try mixing bourbon or tequila with soda water and some lime. You could also try something like a Paloma, which is just tequila, grapefruit juice, and a bit of lime.
Long Island Iced Teas are delicious and they'll definitely get you tipsy much faster than most cocktails, but the excess sugar combined with booze isn't always worth it.
"Daiquiris are full of calories and sugar, and are often pretty big, making them even more value dense than people realize," says Young. So yes, they may be delicious and refreshing, but the sugar content of these adds up pretty quickly, especially if you're going to treat yourself to more than one.
According to Harvard Health, consuming too much added sugar can lead to things like chronic inflammation and high blood pressure, which can have a negative impact on your heart health. If you're in the mood for a refreshing, fruity cocktail, ask the bartender if they offer any light or low-sugar options.