Healthy holiday drinking: A guide from the Food Babe

cocktails
Worried for your health? Vani Hari, also known as the Food Babe, told Metro how to navigate a holiday party and pick the healthiest alcoholic beverages.
Credit: Flickr / mountainhiker

Holiday parties are filled with good cheer, friends and of course, plenty of booze. Maybe you’re looking for the cocktail or beer that will do the least damage to your body, but the FDA does not regulate alcoholic beverages, so alcohol companies are not required to label all of the ingredients, making it difficult to see which drinks are healthier than others. Activist and blogger Vani Hari, also known as the Food Babe, talked to Metro about how to pick your poison during the holidays.

Beer: You’d be surprised by the “extras” some manufacturers add to your favorite beers. Hari called individual companies to ask for ingredient lists and found that some beers contain ingredients like corn syrup and caramel coloring. Caramel coloring is known to be carcinogenic. It contains a chemical called 4-methylimidazole, which has been linked to cancer in animals. Hari said beer manufacturers use caramel coloring to give the beers a “deep golden brown” color that is typically achieved by using high quality hops. Newcastle is one brand that uses caramel coloring in its beers.

Hari said some of the mass-produced beers have corn syrup in their ingredients list include Corona, Miller, Coors, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Red Stripe. Heineken, Amstel and Sierra Nevada are a few popular brands that do not use genetically modified ingredients or other unsavory additives. Even so, Hari recommended seeking out beers from local microbreweries first. “Those smaller breweries are generally not using the crazy additives that other companies use to save money or produce faster,” she said.

Wine: Not all wines are created equal. Hari said some wines are produced with poor quality grapes and can include preservatives, additives and sulfites. Sulfites have been linked with allergic reactions and asthma. Hari suggested buying organic wines, which eliminate exposure to pesticides and other additives. She likes drinking biodynamic wines by Frey and Robert Sinskey. “They take it up another notch by making wines that are biodynamic,” said Hari. “You’re not just drinking organic wine, but wine that’s also environmentally friendly.”

Hard alcohol: Again, Hari urged consumers to buy organic hard alcohol, as it’s impossible to simply check an ingredients label for additives. “You’re also not going to have genetically engineered corn or soy in the organic versions of liquors,” said Hari.

Hari said your best bet is to go for the simplest spirits – flavored ones may contain artificial or natural flavors that can include a range of substances, including castoreum, which is sometimes derived from beavers’ anal glands. Agave plants are not sprayed with pesticides as much as other plants, thus agave-derived liquors like 100 percent agave tequila (Patron is one brand) are “very clean,” according to Hari. As far as navigating cocktails at holiday parties, Hari said it’s best to go for unflavored mixers as well, like soda water or 100 percent juices. “Stay simple,” she said. “Juice is way better for you than pina colada or bloody mary mix. The holidays are a time to have a good time and let loose, so just minimize the damage by trying to pick the best drinks.”

Of course, the healthiest way to go is to avoid drinking when possible. “You don’t have to drink at every holiday party,” said Hari. “If you have five parties in a week, don’t feel like you have to drink at all of them. A club soda with lime on the rocks looks like a vodka tonic so you can blend in.”

Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark

Learn more about the Food Babe’s work on her blog.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Drive charged in fatal hit and run, police…

The NYPD has arrested a man they say is responsible for a fatal hit and run in Manhattan last weekend. Doohee Cho, 33, was hit…

Local

Mayor de Blasio raises minimum wage for some…

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order Tuesday morning that will raise the minimum wage for workers employed by private companies that receive more…

National

3 myths about the working poor

Linda Tirado works to debunk some common stereotypes about the working poor in her new book, "Hand to Mouth."

Money

Lawsuit funding advances: friend or foe?

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Many plaintiffs awaiting resolution of their lawsuit or legal claim often find themselves in a tricky financial…

Going Out

Which NYC restaurant lost its three-star Michelin rating?

A record 73 restaurants in New York City collected coveted Michelin stars on Tuesday as a mix of trendy spots and fine-dining stalwarts underscored the…

Entertainment

Interview: Metro chats with filmmaker Meir Kalmanson, man…

A New York filmmaker hands out smiles to its residents.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 30: 'Selfie,' 'Utopia'…

'Selfie' This modern day take on the "My Fair Lady" story stars John Cho in the Henry Higgins role. Perhaps instead of "the rain in…

Music

Can't-miss weekend events continue to attract the masses

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Earlier this summer, the Firefly Music Festival drew crowds of tens of thousands of people to Dover, Delaware.…

MLB

Mets 2014 report card

The Mets wrapped up their eight straight season without a playoff appearance last weekend. Needless to say, they fell a bit short of general manager…

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

Style

Products that support breast cancer awareness and research

Asics GT-1000, $100 Asics’ third pink collection in collaboration with Christina Applegate’s Right Action for Women includes this pink-accented version of its best-selling GT-1000 3…

Wellbeing

Dr. Marisa Weiss: Where we stand on breast…

As an oncologist and a survivor herself, Dr. Marisa Weiss knows the urgency felt by those diagnosed with breast cancer. Genetic testing has accelerated the…

Wellbeing

Bees' stingers hold new hope for cancer cure

A promising new lead in the search for a cancer cure has turned up in a place that most people naturally avoid. A team from…

Home

Emily Henderson on small space design

Design expert Emily Henderson shows us how to upgrade our cramped quarters.