The Reason Some People Argue That Bourbon Is Good For You

Glass of bourbon
Glass of bourbon - panomporn lungmint/Shutterstock

There is some scientific research that suggests that drinking a glass of red wine brings health benefits by improving your heart health, and eating dark chocolate promotes better brain function. So while some of our indulgences don't seem as bad as we once thought -- even these benefits tend towards the negligible. But while wine and dark chocolate are two vices now commonly seen as reasonably healthy in moderation, some people want to add one more to the list: bourbon.

Claims for bourbon as a health aid include many things, from reducing stress to improving heart health. A Harvard University study did find that a couple of glasses of alcohol may improve heart health, and has been cited all over bourbon-promoting marketing, but it did not factor in long-term data.

All bourbon is distilled from corn, a vegetable, and grains, which cover two integral food groups, so perhaps that's why? However, it's a little deeper than that. During the aging process, bourbon develops ellagic acid, an antioxidant with a slew of benefits. This is claimed by some as a major health benefit of bourbon.

Found in numerous fruits and veggies, ellagic acid is known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, often touted as something that helps to fight off cancer cells, decrease tumors, and helps manage type 2 diabetes. This is one reason that we're advised to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. The antioxidant is also said to help with cognitive function by improving memory and thinking capabilities.

Read more: The 27 Best Bourbon Brands, Ranked

How Much Bourbon Do You Need To Drink To Benefit From Ellagic Acid?

Bourbon being poured into glass
Bourbon being poured into glass - Liudmila Chernetska/Getty Images

With the benefits that ellagic acid is touted to have, some view bourbon as something you could drink more regularly to improve your overall health. However, ellagic acid becomes effective at a dosage of anywhere from 30-850 mg. In 100 ml of bourbon, which is about two shot glasses, there is 1.16 mg of ellagic acid. In order to reach 30 mg of ellagic acid via bourbon, you would need to drink around 51 shots of bourbon a day.

Obviously, this is an inordinate amount and we absolutely would not recommend throwing back several bottles of bourbon in a single day. A single shot of bourbon is one drink and to exceed four or five drinks would be considered binge drinking. Although the bourbon in a hot toddy hasn't actually proved to be beneficial for a cold, it's safer than consuming vast amounts to reap the benefits of ellagic acid.

It is well-proven that drinking too much can lead to long-term health problems. These include dementia and other memory issues, cancer, heart disease, severe liver problems, a weaker immune system, stroke, or addiction. So overall, it's likely that the problems of consuming too much bourbon will be greater than any benefit that its ellagic acid could bring.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, contact The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

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