Rum Nutrition Facts and Health Tips

rum and coke photo

 Alexandra Shytsman / Verywell

In This Article

Rum is a distilled beverage that originated in the West Indies in the mid-1600s. Originally made from molasses, the popular liquor is now distilled around the world using ingredients such as sugarcane juice. Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad, and the Dominican Republic are known for their rum production.

Rum is available in dark and light varieties. Light rum (also called white or silver rum) is usually not aged as long as dark rum. It has a sweeter, lighter flavor. Dark rum, on the other hand, is aged longer in oak or wooden barrels and takes on a deeper color and flavor that is bolder.

Flavored rum is also available. For example, lemon, lime, coconut, and pineapple rums are produced by major manufacturers. Flavored rums may include ingredients that change the basic nutritional information for the beverage.

Rum Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one shot (42g or 1.5 ounces) of rum.

  • Calories: 97
  • Fat: 0
  • Sodium: 0.42
  • Carbohydrates: 0
  • Fiber: 0
  • Sugars: 0
  • Protein: 0
  • Alcohol: 14g

Carbs

A single serving of rum is considered to be one shot or one jigger. A shot is generally 1.5 ounces or about 42 grams of liquid. There are zero carbs in a single serving of rum and no fiber. This beverage is distilled, so there is no longer any naturally-occurring sugar and usually, there are no added sugars.

However, some flavored rums may include additional ingredients that can change the nutrition facts. Also, if you make a cocktail with rum, it is likely that you will add an ingredient that contributes carbohydrate to the beverage.

The glycemic index of a rum is assumed to be zero. Run contains no carbohydrates and glycemic index measures the impact of carbohydrates on blood sugar.

Fats

There is no fat in rum. However, many rum-based drinks like piña colada contain fatty ingredients.

Protein

Rum provides no protein.

Alcohol

Since rum does not provide any carbohydrate, protein, or fat, you might wonder where the calories come from. Rum provides 14 grams of alcohol. Each gram of alcohol provides 7 calories. Therefore, all of the calories in rum come from alcohol when it is consumed straight up or on ice.

Vitamin and Minerals

While there are trace minerals in rum (iron, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc), you will not gain any substantial micronutrients when you consume it.

Health Benefits

There are several purported benefits of consuming rum. For example, some distillers report that rum consumption can increase bone density, ease muscle pain, or even increase good cholesterol.

But not all of these benefits are supported by science and in most cases, there is nothing specific about rum that provides any special benefit as compared to other forms of alcohol. Most importantly, for every benefit there is a potential drawback, depending on the dose.

Stress Reduction

Alcohol is widely used as a method to reduce stress. This benefit is supported by research evidence. Studies dating back into the 1980s and before have shown that moderate alcohol consumption helps to relieve stress. Current studies also show that consumption of a moderate dose of alcohol after a mental stressor may help you rebound faster.

However, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism notes that the relationship between stress and alcohol is tricky. Many times, turning to alcohol to manage stress can take a psychological and physiological toll on the body.

Cardiovascular Health

Some studies have shown that habitual light to moderate alcohol intake (up to 1 drink per day for women and 1 or 2 drinks per day for men) is associated with a decreased risk for total mortality, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and stroke.

However, study authors, including the authors of the 2014 Mayo Clinic Proceedings, are also quick to advise that higher levels of alcohol consumption are associated with an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events.

Diabetes Prevention and Management

The same study that showed light to moderate drinking is associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular events, also reported a lower risk for type 2 diabetes.

But researchers also note that in people with type 2 diabetes the relationship between alcohol and glucose control is complex.

As authors of one study advise, overall nutritional status is an important component of the complicated findings pertaining to the effects of alcohol on the regulation of insulin and glucose metabolism. They note that research findings have been inconclusive about the relative benefits and risks of alcohol consumption in those with this condition.

Bone Health

There have been studies on bone health and liquor consumption. One study showed that light alcohol intake (2–3 times per week and 1–2 glasses per occasion) in South Korean postmenopausal women was linked to high femoral bone mineral density. Non-drinkers and heavy drinkers had a slightly greater risk for osteoporosis than light drinkers.

However, in a widely-cited, large-scale research review for the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, author H. Wayne Sampson, PhD concludes that chronic, heavy alcohol consumption in women compromises bone health and increases the risk of osteoporosis.

He adds that the effects are particularly striking in young people but chronic alcohol use in adulthood can also harm bone health. More recent studies have confirmed these findings.

Adverse Effects

Even though drinking alcohol can provide certain social and relaxation benefits, there are substantial drawbacks if you drink too much. These should be considered if you choose to include rum in your diet.

The USDA Dietary Guidelines 2015–2020 provides guidelines for the consumption of alcohol with a few caveats. According to their recommendations, moderate alcohol consumption can be incorporated into the calorie limits of most healthy eating patterns. But they provide guidance about the amount of alcohol to consume.

According to the USDA, if alcohol is consumed, it should be in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.

A standard drink is considered to be:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of brandy, cognac, or distilled liquor

The NIH National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism promotes the same guidelines for moderate drinking as the USDA. The government health experts do not recommend that you start drinking if you don't currently drink. And because alcoholic beverages are not a component of the USDA Food Patterns, if you do choose to consume alcohol, the calories in your beverage should be accounted for so that the limits on calories are not exceeded.

If you exceed the recommended levels of consumption, the NIAAA advises that you put yourself at higher risk for harmful consequences or adverse health effects.

Alcohol Use Disorder

One of the primary health consequences of overconsuming alcohol is alcohol use disorder (AUD). Binge drinking (usually 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men in about 2 hours) or heavy alcohol use (more than 4 drinks on any day for men or more than 3 drinks for women) also puts you at higher risk for AUD.

Signs of AUD may include drinking more than you had intended, being unable to cut back, or continuing to drink despite problems with family or friends. The disorder can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe.

Increased Stress and Loneliness

There are certain conditions that may put you at higher risk for alcohol use disorder. Isolation and stress—including mass stress (stress experienced by a large community) are two factors that have been studied by researchers. It is possible that while isolation and stress may increase the compulsion to overdrink, drinking too much during these times may lead to increased stress and potentially increased loneliness.

"Although alcohol temporarily dampens the brain and body’s response to stress, feelings of stress and anxiety not only return, but worsen, once the alcohol wears off. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption can cause adaptations in the brain that intensify the stress response. As a result, drinking alcohol to cope can make problems worse and one may end up drinking to fix the problem that alcohol caused."

—George Koob, PhD. NIAAA Director

A series of studies was published in the years following the 9/11 attacks in New York City. Researchers found that increased exposure to news reports about the incident plus a past history of drinking problems predicted heavier drinking in the year after the event. They also determined that the intensity of exposure to 9/11 had long‐lasting effects, with greater exposure to the attack associated with binge drinking even five to six years later.

In a published response to those studies published during the COVID-19 outbreak, noted that boredom, stress, economic distress, are key factors that can precipitate a recurrence of alcohol use disorder.

But researchers also know that long-term, heavy drinking can cause increased anxiety and a decreased ability to deal with stress due to the release of higher amounts of cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone.

According to the National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a long-term heavy drinker may experience higher levels of anxiety when faced with a stressful situation than someone who never drank or who drank only moderately.

Isolation may be another factor that plays a role. In a paper discussing alcohol use and misuse during the COVID-19 outbreak, researchers discuss the way that isolation may play a role in problem drinking patterns.

They suggest that the long period of isolation might lead to a spike in alcohol misuse, relapse, and potentially, the development of alcohol use disorder in at-risk individuals. Researchers also know that those dealing with substance abuse are more likely to experience stronger feelings of loneliness.

Reduced Immune Health

Authors of one study published in Alcohol Research Current Reviews report that there has been an established association between excessive alcohol consumption and adverse immune-related health effects such as susceptibility to pneumonia.

They advise that alcohol disrupts immune pathways that can impair the body’s ability to defend against infection, contribute to organ damage associated with alcohol consumption, and impede recovery from tissue injury.

Increased Risk for Heart Disease and Stroke

The same authors who report a decreased risk for certain cardiac events report that excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of premature death in the United States.

Specifically, heavy alcohol use is one of the most common causes of reversible hypertension, it accounts for about one-third of all cases of nonischemic dilated cardiomyopathy, it is a frequent cause of atrial fibrillation, and it markedly increases the risk of stroke—both ischemic and hemorrhagic.

Overweight and Obesity

Given that alcohol provides no nutritional value and contains 7 calories per gram (as opposed to 4 calories per gram for protein and carbohydrate) it is not a surprise that it is associated with unhealthy weight gain and obesity. But again, the dose matters.

Authors of one study note that light-to-moderate alcohol intake is not associated with fat gain while heavy drinking is more consistently related to weight gain. They say that experimental evidence is also mixed and suggests that moderate intake of alcohol does not lead to weight gain over the short-term but alcohol intake may be a risk factor for obesity in some individuals.

Contraindications

There are some people who should not consume alcohol at all—even in limited amounts. For example, some over-the-counter and prescription medications cause drowsiness and should not be taken with alcohol. In most cases, a label on your prescription bottle should indicate whether or not alcohol consumption is safe. Check with your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

If you plan to drive or operate machinery, you should avoid alcohol. Also, those with celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity should check the manufacturer to be sure that their beverage of choice is safe to consume.

NIAAA also advises that women who are pregnant should not drink alcohol. According to the organization, "prenatal alcohol exposure can result in brain damage and other serious problems in the baby. The effects are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, or FASD, and can result in lifelong physical, cognitive, and behavioral problems."

Allergies

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, there are reported cases of alcohol allergy. Symptoms may include rash, swelling, or throat constriction. If you experience any related or unusual symptoms after consuming rum, talk to your health care provider for personalized advice.

Varieties

If you're looking to buy rum there are numerous varieties to choose from. Your best choice may depend on your budget and the way you plan to use the beverage.

  • White rum tends to be clear and lighter-bodied. This rum is best for cocktails that include other high-flavor ingredients.
  • Gold rum may be slightly more complex due to longer aging in oak barrels.
  • Dark rum is aged for longer periods of time and has deeper, darker flavor profiles. This rum is best for sipping solo.
  • Flavored rum has had ingredients added to enhance the taste, such as coconut, lime, or pineapple.

Storage and Food Safety

Always store rum and other alcoholic beverages in a cool dark area away from light and heat. It should not be refrigerated.

When unopened, rum stays good for decades. Rum makers advise that you consume rum within six months once it is opened. Rum can be frozen if your freezer is very cold, but it is not recommended.

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