Enjoy a cold drink this summer with our guilt-free guide.

13 07 summer drinks calories health benefits

Figuring out which drinks to spend calories on this summer can be difficult when you’re sitting outside itching for a frozen cocktail. However, indulging in a glass of your favourite adult beverage doesn’t have to be all bad.

“Many studies have shown that consuming alcohol in moderation is healthy,” says Mirella Amato, a Master Cicerone (beerology.ca). For women, the Public Health Agency of Canada advises having no more than two drinks per day and no more than nine drinks a week.

We decided to debunk some drinking myths to help you make the most out of patio season – without sabotaging your waistline.

Beer

It may surprise you that beer is full of vitamin B, calcium, potassium, magnesium and folic acid, more so than wine and other spirits. Yeast in beer also has probiotics to help the digestive system, while hops are known to remedy indigestion, insomnia and help the body metabolize toxins. Beer is also fat- and cholesterol-free, and it’s also been found that polyphenols in beer can help lower cholesterol, making it a heart healthy choice. Most beers also have fewer calories than a mixed drink.

Tip: Although you may think low-calorie beers are better for you, Amato warns that, depending on the methods used, the beer you’re drinking could have less nutritional value than a regular brew.It’s more important to focus on flavour. “If you're moderating your alcohol intake (which is what you should be doing if health is a concern) then why not choose something that tastes good to you and enjoy every sip?” says Amato.

Trying out a range of contrasting brews, such as at a local beer festival, can help you figure out what flavours you enjoy best. Toronto’s Festival of Beer (beerfestival.ca), from July 26 – 28 is the perfect chance to taste over 200+ brands while enjoying outdoor musical performances and delicious food from top chefs at the grilling tent.

Wine

Everyone’s heard that drinking wine has anti-aging and disease related heath benefits, including the ability to help fight heart disease, certain types of cancer and Alzheimers. However this only applies to red wine, which is fermented with grape skins that contain resveratrol. (Sorry white drinkers!) Studies have found that grapes contain resveratrol, a compound that restores collagen and elastin fibres, which prevent wrinkles from forming, but to enjoy these anti-aging effects on your skin, you’d want to apply it topically – not ingest it. Wine, however, has fewer calories than beer or cocktails if calories are a concern.

Tip: We love wine, but hate the way it stains our teeth. Here’s our guide to indulging without the smile-ruining side effects.

Mixed Drinks and Cocktails

Delicious summer cocktails should be treated like a dessert since they often contain enough sugar and calories to count as one. While you may not think one small cocktail can hurt, its important to be aware of what counts as a full drink, which is one or one 43 mL (1.5 oz.) shot of spirits (40 percent alcohol), compared to a 341 mL (12 oz.) bottle of beer (5% alcohol) or one 142 mL (5 oz.) glass of wine (12 percent alcohol).

Tip: Try having your favourite liquor over ice, or replace pop with tonic waters to cut back on the sugar and calories you’ll be ingesting. You can also consider making your own delicious tea-infused cocktail through Tea Sparrow (teasparrow.com), a loose-leaf tea club that ships tea to your door each month for just $20. Tea adds nutrients and related health benefits that are not ordinarily found in cocktails.

Here’s a recipe for one of our favourites, the Coconut Milky Oolong Mint Mojito (which only has 90 calories per 8oz serving):

-Steep 1 heaping tbsp of Coconut Milky Oolong per 8oz (1 cup) of not-quite-boiling water for three to four minutes.

-While the tea is cooling, muddle ten to 12 mint leaves with 1 tbsp of lime juice and 2 tbsp agave nectar or sugar water, in a small pitcher.

-Then fill the pitcher with ice. Add the tea, 4oz of white rum and 8 oz soda water.