The surprising truth about what tequila really does to your body

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Oh, tequila. 

Whether you love or love to hate the taste of this drink, odds are you've been teased into taking a shot of it while out with a group of friends. In drunk person folklore, it's often claimed that tequila causes more outlandish behavior than other spirits.  


And recently, a slew of articles from sites including LifehackElite Daily and Forbes have made tequila seem relatively healthy, claiming it aids in weight loss, can lower blood sugar, ward off hangovers and more.

So, what's the deal? Does tequila really make your clothes fall off more than other liquors, or do hidden health benefits make it as (allegedly) virtuous as that nightly glass of red wine? 

First of all, tequila does not get you drunk any faster than other liquors. 

This perception may have developed from how people take their tequila, since the drink is often downed as a shot rather than sipped on, Heather Mangieri, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said via email. 

"Blood alcohol concentration is determined by how quickly the alcohol is absorbed, metabolized and excreted," Mangieri said. She noted the way people digest the ethanol in alcohol depends on several factors including how much someone has eaten prior to drinking. 

Drinking tequila — and any drink, for that matter — on an empty stomach will speed up its effects. 

Alcohol hits the bloodstream faster, and blood vessels widen and pulse rates decrease, Science Daily reported. From the stomach, the alcohol travels through your kidneys, lunges, liver and then to your brain. And once the liquor hits your noggin, your brain will have less control over behavior and judgment will be impaired.

What about tequila's purported health benefits? 

One study found that fructans, a carbohydrate found in tequila, was associated with calcium retention in mice — but this doesn't mean your shot of Patron is helping fight osteoporosis.

"If you're hoping to promote calcium absorption or stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria from fructans, you'll want to load up on food sources, such as brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli or garlic, not tequila," Mangieri said. Moreover, tequila doesn't even contain fructans because this nutrient is lost when agave turns into alcohol, she noted. 

The bottom line: "No one should be drinking tequila for the health benefits," Mangieri said. Go for fruits and vegetables instead. Moderation — one drink a day for women and up to two drinks for men — is your best bet for healthy consumption of tequila, she said. 

Tequila tastes better when it's sipped on between scoops of guacamole, anyway.