Alcohol and Nutrition

  • Author:
    Betty Kovacs, MS, RD

    Betty is a Registered Dietitian who earned her B.S. degree in Food and Nutrition from Marymount College of Fordham University and her M.S. degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She is the Co-Director and Director of nutrition for the New York Obesity Research Center Weight Loss Program.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Quick GuideAlcohol Abuse Pictures Slideshow: 12 Health Risks of Chronic Heavy Drinking

Alcohol Abuse Pictures Slideshow: 12 Health Risks of Chronic Heavy Drinking

How is alcohol made?

Alcohol, also known as ethanol, is made through a process called fermentation. During fermentation, yeast breaks sugar down into ethanol and carbon dioxide. This process is done without any air present and once complete, the carbon dioxide gas bubbles out into the air, leaving ethanol and water behind. Distilled spirits, such as vodka, rum, gin, and whiskey, are fermented and then distilled to separate the ethanol from the water.

Various sources of sugar are used in these processes, resulting in different forms of alcohol. The sugar from crushed grapes is used to make wine; malted barley is used to make beer; sugar cane or molasses makes rum; grain, potatoes, beets, molasses, and a variety of other plants are used to make vodka.

The technique used to make the beverage will determine the alcohol content. You will see the percentage of alcohol per volume listed on the bottle, as well as the proof of the drink. The proof of a beverage is twice the alcohol content, so a drink with 12% alcohol per volume is 24 proof. Generally, a 12-ounce glass of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, and a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor all contain a ½ ounce of pure alcohol and are considered one drink. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 2/17/2016
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