Is Tequila Healthy?

Posted on 07. May, 2012 by in What to Eat

I hope you had a fun and safe Cinco de Mayo. I thought about doing a post on how to have a healthy Cinco de Mayo holiday, but I know that’s the last thing people want to hear on our proudest mexican holiday, especially when it falls on a Saturday.

Is Tequila healthy? What is the healthiest alcohol? Is there such a thing?

No, no there isn’t. But there is always the choice to pick the lesser of evils and better choices definitely add up over time.

Most alcohols are grain, rye, barley, or corn based. Beer, vodka, whiskey…well at least all my favorites are. And as all paleo-ers know, these are pretty much the worse things out there for you.

So does that mean tequila or rum is better for you since they are NOT grain-based?

Absolutely NOT.

I wish I could say the main tequila ingredient, the blue agave plant, is some miracle plant that has nothing but nutritious value to it.  In actuality, it is really just a whole bunch of concentrated sugars, mostly in the form of fructose.

It’s like the cacti version of sugarcane. Sugarcane (and its byproduct molasses) is mainly what’s used to produce your rums and spiced rums like the Captain.

There is plenty of sugar in the alcohols themselves. Adding mixes or colas only add to the already abundant amounts of sugars we are ingesting. Thereby exacerbating the bad stuff we are already doing to our body.

This is where the lesser of evils usually comes in. Not in which alcohol you choose, but in how you choose to drink it.

And it should go without saying that the less you drink, the better off your body will be.


Health wise, the only reason tequila would have an advantage over a whiskey were if you had some kind of grain-intolerance and could not eat grain based foods. I think we are all “allergic” to grains to some degree, but people with celiac or autoimmune diseases are extremely vulnerable.

Taste wise, I think tequila has a huge advantage because all you need is a little lime and water to make a smooth and tasty drink.

Ever since I saw that fellow Paleo-er and author of The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet, Robb Wolf, had his own signature “NorCal Margarita”, it turned me on to drinking more tequila and trying different drink recipes with it.

Here is Robb’s recipe for the NorCal Margarita:

2 shots of gold tequila

Juice of lime (the whole damn thing!)

Splash of soda water

For me this recipe does the job quite well. Especially when you compare the nutritional facts to most margaritas out there. Many are LOADED with sugar and carbohydrates in their mixes. It’s no wonder you drink two of them and your stomach hurts.


I checked out the backs of a couple Margarita mixes while shopping for this weekend’s supplies.

The first is by “Master of Mixes” and advertises “made with agave nectar”, “made with premium lemon & lime juice”, “with all-natural flavors”. A simple look at the back label tells you otherwise; high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, sugar, corn starch, sodium benzoate, sodium citrate, medium chain triglycerides, yellow #5 – just to name a few things on the list. As well as 30g sugars and 33g of carbs per 4 ounces. This is an easy PASS.

The second margarita mixed grabbed my attention because it had a sticker about how it was featured on all these TV shows and magazines. It advertises “0 Carbs, 0 Sugars” right on the cover! While not completely free of bad ingredients; citric acid, sucralose, yellow #5, soybean oil, it still looks to be a much better choice than most mixes.

To me, it’s not even worth bothering with a mix when you can make a just as delicious margarita using lemon and/or lime flavored sparkling water.

Here’s the ratio I like to use to Make a SouthFLa Margarita:

2 ounces Silver “blanco” tequila

4 ounces Sparkling Water Lemon Lime flavor

Squirts of Lime Juice (or use real squeezed limes, I just used the juice bottle for portability)

Stir in Ice

(Featured picture of ingredients at top)

I hope you give these “modified margaritas” a try sometime in the near future. I know many of you will expect that traditional “sweet” margarita taste so you may want to keep a Lite Sour Mix nearby to add a splash or two if you find the NorCal or SouthFla recipes not up to your standards.


Here are a couple fun facts about tequila you may or may not have known:

Resposado means “rested”, and it’s been aged for more than two months but not longer than a year in oak barrels. Anejo means “aged”, and it’s been aged for a time period of 1-3 years. Extra Anejo has been aged for a minimum of three years.

If the tequila doesn’t explicitly advertise that it’s “100% pure agave” than its most likely 51% agave and added sugar and water to complete the mixture. I say added water because some tequilas, especially your cheaper brands, are actually made to 100 proof, but diluted with water to bring the proof down to 80.

The largest Margarita ever made was concocted in Orlando, FL at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. It held 5,861 of the delicious drink, (and fed ten…kidding!).


Alcohol itself is certainly detrimental to your health; raises blood sugar, stops growth hormone production, dehydrates the body, has toxic by-products that spread throughout the body, overworks the liver to remove the toxins, etc., etc.

But if you are going to drink, you are going to drink. Wise words I know.

I advise you to always drink responsibly and never operate heavy machinery or go on facebook while drinking margaritas.

I will leave you with this quote directly out of Robb Wolf’s book The Paleo Solution.  It’s about why he even included a part about a “recommended alcohol.” He writes, “Because, I get this question every damn day and I’m just providing the information necessary to help people make the best choice for their situation. Let’s not turn this into a religion, OK?”



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6 Responses to “Is Tequila Healthy?”

  1. fredfnord

    07. Aug, 2013

    I love reading ‘paleo’ literature. Because it always talks about the ‘health effects’ of this or that, but typically ignores all the scientific evidence in favor of pious theorizing based on preconceived notions.

    “Alcohol itself is certainly detrimental to your health; raises blood sugar, stops growth hormone production, dehydrates the body, has toxic by-products that spread throughout the body, overworks the liver to remove the toxins, etc., etc.”

    Yes, alcohol is terribly detrimental to your health. That’s why study after study shows that moderate drinkers (of any kind of alcohol, not just wine) live longer than non-drinkers and heavy drinkers. And why some studies (but not all, so I’d be careful about the binge drinking) show that even heavy drinkers tend on average to live longer than non-drinkers. Good analysis, that!

  2. Womperstiltskin

    18. May, 2013

    It should be noted that “Gold” tequila is often a blend of agave and grain alcohols (e.g., Jose Cuervo Gold), which is also the case with most lower-shelf tequilas. If you are trying to avoid grains, make sure to only purchase “100% de Agave” tequila.

  3. Laurence

    14. Feb, 2013

    Agave is NOT a cactus. It’s a succulent.


  5. Abc

    18. Nov, 2012

    Obviously from the language you used, you know nothing about tequila. Tequila that is 100% de agave has excellent health benefits. However, when you use terms like “Tequila Gold or Silver”, you are basically telling people to drink tequila that has been made with 49% sugar! The only thing people need to know is make sure you see “100% de agave” on the bottle and you’re all good. Enjoy!

    • Tony Frezza

      20. Nov, 2012

      The article was one part educational and two parts entertainment. I wouldn’t say you are “all good” with 100% agave, its still going to have a similar effect on blood sugar just as eating a jar full of all natural honey would. It does have no added sugar and probably the best point is, is that it won’t have anything added from GRAIN sources like a gold or silver might. Which are really NOT PALEO.

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