Tequila Nutrition Facts and Health Tips

tequila

 Alexandra Shytsman / Verywell

Tequila is a distilled beverage made from blue agave—a plant grown exclusively for the liquor's production. True tequila is made in or near Jalisco, Mexico and contains the phrase "Made in Mexico" on the label.

There are many different varieties of tequila, including blanco tequila, reposada, añejo, and others. Tequila is a key ingredient in several popular cocktails, including a margarita and a tequila sunrise. But the beverage is also consumed neat or straight up as a sipping beverage.

Some believe that tequila can provide certain health benefits. While tequila can be included in a healthy eating pattern when consumed in moderation, high-quality evidence to support tequila health benefits is lacking.

Tequila Nutrition Facts

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

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

Carbs

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

While tequila itself does not contain carbohydrates, many popular drinks made with tequila are high in sugar and high in carbohydrates. For example, a frozen margarita (225g) contains 274 calories and 36g of carbs. A tequila sunrise (225g) is likely to contain about 252 calories and roughly 30g of carbs, according to USDA data.

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

Fats

There is no fat in tequila.

Protein

Tequila provides no protein.

Alcohol

Since tequila does not provide any carbohydrates, protein, or fat, you might wonder where the calories come from. Tequila (40% ABV or 80 proof) contains 14 grams of alcohol. Each gram of alcohol provides 7 calories. Therefore, all of the calories in tequila come from alcohol when it is consumed straight up or on ice.

Some brands of tequila have a slightly higher ABV (alcohol by volume) and may provide a few more grams of alcohol which increases the calorie count slightly.

Vitamin and Minerals

While there are trace minerals in tequila, you will not gain any substantial micronutrients when you consume it.

Health Benefits

There are several purported benefits of consuming tequila. For example, some say that the blue agave used to make tequila can provide certain benefits, such as preventing weight gain, regulating insulin levels, or extending lifespan.

The problem is that the scientific evidence to support these benefits is very limited and was performed on mice or fruit flies. We don't know if any of these benefits extend to humans.

Alcohol, in general, may provide benefits when consumed in moderation. But experts advise that for every benefit there is a potential drawback, depending on the dose.

Stress Reduction

Alcohol is commonly used to reduce stress and the benefit is supported by some scientific evidence. Through the years, studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption can help to reduce stress. Recent studies have also shown that consumption of a moderate dose of alcohol after a mental stressor may help you rebound faster.

But the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) states that the relationship between stress and alcohol is complicated. Turning to alcohol to manage stress can take a psychological and physiological toll on the body.

Better Heart Health

Certain 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.

Reduced Diabetes Risk

Studies have also suggested that light to moderate drinking is associated with a lower risk for type 2 diabetes. But researchers also say that the relationship between alcohol and glucose control is complex in people with type 2 diabetes.

Authors of one study say that overall nutritional intake plays a big role in the way that alcohol impacts 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 several studies on bone health and liquor consumption. Most indicated that alcohol consumption may negatively impact bone health.

But 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, Ph.D. 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

While drinking alcohol can provide certain benefits, there are significant drawbacks if you drink too much. These should be considered if you choose to include tequila in your diet.

The USDA Dietary Guidelines 2015–2020 provides recommendations for the consumption of alcohol. According to the source, 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 (80 proof)

The NIAAA promotes the same guidelines for moderate drinking as the USDA. Health experts do not recommend that you start drinking if you don't currently consume alcohol. And because alcoholic beverages are not a component of the USDA Food Patterns, if you choose to consume alcohol, the calories should be accounted for so that the limits on calories are not exceeded.

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

Alcohol Use Disorder

One of the primary health consequences of consuming too much 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, Ph.D. 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 attacks plus a past history of drinking problems was associated with 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 response to those studies published during the COVID-19 outbreak, health experts 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 certain stress hormones (cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone).

According to NIAAA, 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 moderate amounts.

Isolation may be another factor that plays a role in drinking behavior. 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 a 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 is an association between excessive alcohol consumption and adverse immune-related health effects such as susceptibility to pneumonia.

They suggest that alcohol disrupts immune pathways that can impair the body’s ability to defend against infection. Alcohol can also 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

Alcohol provides no nutritional value and contains 7 calories per gram—as opposed to 4 calories per gram for protein and carbohydrate. So it is not a surprise that drinking excessively is associated with unhealthy weight gain and obesity. But the amount you consume makes a difference.

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 evidence is mixed and suggest 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. If you are not sure, 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.

The 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 tequila, talk to your health care provider for personalized advice.

There have also been specific reports of tequila allergy. If you have a known allergy to agave you should avoid tequila or seek the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Varieties

If you're looking to buy tequila there are numerous varieties to choose from.

First, it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with tequila lingo. Not all tequilas are made with 100% agave. Some may be mixed with other types of sugars. If you are looking for a higher quality tequila, look for one labeled "100% Agave," "100% Blue Agave" or "100% Agave Azul."

After the ingredients, you can also choose the level of quality. If you plan to use the tequila in mixed drinks, a tequila Blanco (unaged) may suffice. If you prefer a sipping tequila you may prefer a higher quality tequila such as a reposado, añejo, or grand añejo which are aged anywhere from two months to more than three years.

Storage and Food Safety

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

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

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