Drinking tequila during Cinco de Mayo celebrations does not have to end with a nauseous, massive hangover. Good tequila, made from 100 percent agave, comes with a bold flavor and medicinal properties that can help, not harm, our health. Avoid sugary mixers or taking shots of tequila to reap its health benefits, from weight loss to lower dementia risk.
Before you start drinking, it's important to know not all tequila is created equal. In order to have a pure tequila, it must be all agave with no additives. Blanco is the purest type of 100 percent blue agave tequila; it's more pure than aged agave tequilas like reposados, or mixed tequilas that contain various sugars, known as mixtos.
Take a look below at some of the reasons you should enjoy tequila this Cinco de Mayo, responsibly.
Drinking 100 percent blue agave tequila after a full meal makes it the ideal digestif. The agave plant contains high amounts of inulin, which is a substance known to aid the digestive system by growing good bacteria. Digestifs are believed to help ease an uneasy stomach, and help digest your food.
Unlike a probiotic, a prebiotic is a specialized plant fiber that nourishes the good bacteria already in the large bowel or colon. As prebiotics help form good bacteria in the gut, prebiotics nourish the good bacteria that already exists. A 2010 study found the fructans — naturally occurring form of fructose — helps boost the count of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, acting as a prebiotic.
Agavins, a particular kind of sugar in tequila, can help boost weight loss in individuals. Unlike agave syrup, agavins won't raise blood sugar levels, and they are non-digestible. In a 2008 study, researchers found mice who were following a standard diet, and then drank water with agavins added, ate less overall and had lower blood sugar levels than their counterparts. Moreover, the agavin group produced the hormone GLP-1, which is known to keep the stomach fuller longer.
Fructans do not only make great prebiotics, but they can also promote bone health. In a 2016 study, researchers tested the effects of agave fructans on bone growth in mice. Those fed fructans absorbed more calcium from food, and excreted less calcium from their feces. Moreover, they showed a 20 percent increase in a protein, osteocalcin, linked to the build-up of new bone tissue. This emphasizes the importance of supplementing diets with agave fructans to prevent bone loss and promote healthy bone formation.
Agavin may help promote not just weight loss, but offer benefits to people with type 2 diabetes. In the same 2008 study, the researchers found the agavin mice had lower blood glucose levels and higher insulin levels. They were responsible for reducing glucose levels and increasing GLP-1, while also increasing the amount of insulin.
A few drinks of alcohol like tequila, not a lot, can help cut the risk of dementia. A 2009 study found older people who consumed between eight and 14 alcoholic drinks a week had a 37 percent lower risk of dementia than the rest of the population. However, those who consumed more than 14 drinks a week faced twice the normal risk of developing the disease.
It remains unclear why a moderate amount of alcohol seems to be good for the brain. Researchers note, as seen in animal studies, perhaps low amounts of alcohol stimulate the release of the chemical acetylcholine, which is important in memory. Light to moderate drinkers can be at a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, and other forms of dementia.
It's important to talk to your doctor before using tequila as a cure-all for the health conditions above.