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Light vs. Dark: The Battle of the Liquors


In this day and age of doing everything healthier, it’s perhaps unavoidable that the pursuit of better health spilled over into the world of drinking. One of the most interesting results of this shift is the battle between light and dark liquors – which is healthier? Which is better? Is there such a thing as “healthy” liquor? Let’s take a look at how things stand.

The Question of Calories

When it comes to defining “healthy” liquor, the most common way to do so is by counting calories (as with most things). Interestingly, most light/white liquors are lower in calories than their dark-side brethren are. This makes them the default for those drinkers looking to imbibe while watching their waistlines. Of course, there’s no such thing as a diet mixed drink – all types of liquor have calories, and you won’t find any 0-calorie options out there.

However, don’t think that your mixed drink is better for you just because you used vodka rather than tequila. The most important consideration in mixed drinks is not the alcohol, but what you mix it with. For instance, mojitos have a very high calorie count thanks to the additives used in the mixing process, while a gin and tonic will have far fewer because the only additive is tonic water (which is free of calories). Other low-calorie options include a glass of bubbly or a vodka and soda (diet or 0-cal soda, of course).

The Hangover Conundrum

Of course, there’s more to the light vs. dark debate than just which option has more calories. There’s a trend toward considering dark liquors as more hangover-prone than lighter options. There is a kernel of truth to this (though it’s far from being dogma). The darker color of things like whiskey or dark rum stems from the higher number of impurities (through the aging process or the presence of additives to darken the liquor). These are thought to make hangovers worse.

Consider Healthy Additives

If you’re more concerned about the health level of your beverages rather than the calorie count, opting for those with natural ingredients (fresh is best) can help ensure that you get what you want. Fresh fruit is always a better option than canned (or drinks without fruit), and fresh juice is always preferable to canned or frozen.

There are numerous ways you can still enjoy your drink of choice while taking a step toward living a healthier life.