Empty Calories From Alcohol Vs. Soda?

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A new study found that Americans consume almost as many empty calories from alcohol than from sodas. As you know, an “empty calorie” has the same energy content as any other calorie, but lacks many accompanying nutrients such as vitamins, dietary minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, or dietary fiber.

In a sense, they are on the opposite spectrum of superfoods, that also contain vital phytonutrients on top of the typical vitamin payload of healthy vegetables.

As we enter the holiday season, the study’s author commented that “sometimes people forget completely that alcoholic beverages have calories”.

So true.

Anyway, here’s an excerpt from the New York Times covering the study:

The Not-So-Hidden Calories From Alcohol

Hoping to stave off weight gain in the coming weeks? You may want to hold off on the mulled wine and cocktails this holiday season, according to a new report that looked at the number of calories Americans get from alcoholic beverages.

The study, which used nationwide data collected between 2007 to 2010, found that the average adult consumes about 100 calories worth of alcohol daily — an amount that for many people could contribute to excess weight gain. In fact, the study found, many Americans consume far more than 100 calories of alcohol a day: 20 percent of men and 6 percent of women drink more than 300 calories worth daily, roughly the amount in two 12-ounce cans of beer or two-and-a-half glasses of wine.

Until now, researchers had never looked in detail at the calories Americans were getting from alcoholic drinks.

“Most of the research has focused on sugar sweetened beverages,” said Samara Joy Nielsen, the lead author of the study and a nutritional epidemiologist with the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One reason for the new study, Dr. Nielsen said, was to quantify a source of calories that Americans rarely give much thought to.

“I think people may be aware that there are calories in alcoholic beverages,” she said, “but I don’t know if people actually look at a beer and realize that it’s the same amount of calories as a soda. Or that a five-ounce glass of wine is almost as much as a soda.”

Read the full New York Times article »

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