As they say in Spanish, salud, which is the way to say ‘cheers’ and means ‘to your health.’ But is there some truth behind the claims that tequila offers health benefits and, compared to other alcohols, can offer a cleaner hangover the next day? We look at each of these claims to separate truth from myth.
The short answer: if hangovers and weight struggles are your nemeses, tequila may your new friend… but not always. Like any alcohol, if you drink low quality, mix it with sugary cocktails, or have too many, nothing can save you.
We analyze whether tequila is healthy based on alcohol content, calories, ingredients and more.
Is Tequila Hangover Free?
There are two main distinctions determining the quality of tequila. Check whether your tequila is:
- mixto (mixed): by law, tequila only needs to contain 51% agave sugar; the rest can be made up from any other type of sugar, such as corn or cane sugar. These sugars can intensity the hangover.
- pure agave tequila: the best quality tequila is made from 100% agave; only this type of tequila offers the best health benefits and reduces the hangover.
The purity of 100% agave tequila – at least, the white, un-aged variety – leaves less damage the next day.
This is because, without sugary syrups and wood aging, there’s less chance of ‘congeners,’ the types of chemical impurities that rough up your system and increase the hangover pain.
Pure tequila is also a tasty sipping alcohol on its own, meaning you can also cut the headache-causing sugars found in cocktails and mixers. Or drink tequila like the Mexican locals, alternating sips with lime juice or a tomato-based chaser called sangrita.
Sangrita can contain high levels of sugar, although it is usually drunk in small quantities. If you sip lime juice, though, you’ve basically got a low-calorie, natural combination that is a healthy winner.
What About the Health Benefits of Tequila?
The disclaimer about tequila’s health benefits is that no human trials have been undertaken for conclusive evidence. However, preliminary studies in animals have shown agave to have some benefits.
Fermented agave drinks have a long history in Mexico. The predecessor to tequila – pulque – has been used for its medicinal properties in Mexico for thousands of years. It is a low-alcoholic drink made from a basic fermentation of raw agave sap.
Studies of indigenous communities showed that they got a lot of dietary requirements from drinking pulque. It is 100% natural, serving up doses of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin C, calcium, and iron, plus helpful microbes to aid digestion.
Agave is considered to have benefits such as:
- a low GI Index, which can act as a sugar substitute for diabetics and for weight loss.
- vitamin B6, which helps break down food, especially protein and carbohydrates.
- steroidal sapogenins, which are thought to help reduce inflammation.
Agave is said to aid digestion after a big meal and promote probiotic and prebiotic growth. This is due to the high presence of inulin and fructans, substances known to aid the digestive system by encouraging good bacteria.
Agave reportedly has the power to lower blood sugar and cholesterol, based on the presence of ‘agavina’, a particular kind of sugar. Agavins trigger insulin production and lower triglycerides – effectively, cholesterol. They are thought to help weight loss by keeping the stomach fuller longer and keeping blood sugars down. Fructans are also thought to promote bone health by boosting calcium absorption from food.
As tequila is made from blue agave, many transfer the benefits of agave to tequila – you can easily search articles claiming numerous benefits of tequila. However, it is considered to be a myth. Once agave sugars are fermented, they convert into ethanol and lose their agave properties.
Tequila Health Benefits
One benefit of tequila, like many alcohols, is that it can help with numbing. You supposedly feel lessening physical pain as tequila eases up blood vessels to transport more blood to all parts of your body. And, if the Mexican saying is true and tequila is the solution when ‘no other remedy will do’, it’s also pretty good for emotional pain as well.
Tequila also has less sugar than some other alcohols, so it is considered to have a less damaging effect on your skin, such as inflammation and outbreaks.
Tequila is also 100% gluten-free (more on that below).
Is Tequila a healthy alcohol?
Just how healthy is tequila compared to other alcohols, especially other low-calorie options like vodka?
How many calories and carbs in a shot of Tequila?
A 1-ounce shot of tequila has around 65 calories. This is similar to vodka (64 calories) but lower than some other alcohols, such as:
- a glass of wine (100 calories)
- full-strength beer (155 calories)
- gin and tonic (200 calories).
But tequila is higher in carbohydrates, though, around 5g for a tequila shot compared to 0g for vodka.
While Tequila is made from sugar, the agavins are non-digestible and don’t raise blood sugar, according to Mexican research (note: this is not the same as more renowned agave syrup).
Pure tequila is also pretty tasty, meaning you can cut out calories by drinking it straight, unlike some other alcohols.
Is Tequila gluten free?
Tequila gets a thumbs for celiac sufferers and those avoiding gluten, although this is only guaranteed if the tequila is 100% blue agave.
If it is mixto tequila (51% agave), you should check the label for what other sugars are used. Most premium brands are safe, like Don Juilo, 1800 or Patron.
What is the alcohol percentage of Tequila?
Tequila ranges between 31–55% alcohol content (62–110 US proof), averaging around 38–40% alcohol content.
It is normally watered down to meet international restrictions, for example, in the US, tequila must be 80 Proof (40%).