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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