Healthy and Unhealthy Summer Drinks

Which alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks are the healthiest for summertime drinking? Experts give their advice.

By Star Lawrence
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Summertime -- when you're hot and thirsty -- is drinking time, whether your taste runs to alcoholic or nonalcoholic libations. Which drinks are the worst in terms of sugar, salt, alcohol content, or empty calories -- and which can actually enhance your fun without ruining you diet or health?

And no, this does not limit you to water.

First, a Word About Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages contain different percentages of alcohol. According to the National Institutes of Health, a standard drink of beer contains about 5% alcohol; wine contains 12%, and spirits has 40%. Distilled alcohol is classified by "proof." For example, 100-proof alcohol contains 50% alcohol; 80-proof contains 40% alcohol, etc.

A standard drink is considered to be:

  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 12 ounces of wine cooler
  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled liquor

Many studies have been done that seem to suggest that alcohol in moderation -- especially wine -- can have health benefits, although perhaps not enough for people to start drinking if they don't care to do so.