They are on everything from canned tuna to condiments, but nutrition labels don’t mark any of the alcoholic beverages lining liquor-store walls.
If these labels were required by law, they would list no fat, sodium or protein, and very little sugar for anything that isn’t a cooler. There is less than a teaspoon of the sweet stuff in a 140-millilitre serving of red wine.
But labels would boast calories and often carbohydrates. A 40-ml serving of wine or spirits has about 100 calories, while 340 ml of beer has 140 calories. Beer, wine, cider and any other drink made by fermentation will always have some carbs – an average beer has 12 grams, which is equal to a skinny slice of bread.
While a serving of beer carries the most calories and carbohydrates, if it is made with barley so it will also contain a little fibre. Most beer can also brag about vitamins.
“A [340-ml] brewski supplies somewhere around 3 to 15 per cent of our daily requirement of vitamin B12, and around 10 to 12 per cent of vitamin B6,” says Dr. Peter Jones, Canada Research Chair in Nutrition and Functional Foods.
But don’t to turn to beer to get your daily dose. Anything more than moderate drinking will actually interfere with the absorption of these same vitamins.
Wine contains antioxidants such as resveratrol. Yet recent data suggests that you need to drink a bottle or two of red wine a day to obtain enough resveratrol to impact your health, which is definitely not recommended, Jones says.
“We can get resveratrol and other antioxidants from lots of other fruits,” says Kate Comeau, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for Dietitians of Canada. “For example, a handful of grapes would be a better option, a healthier option, to find that antioxidant. I would not rely on alcoholic beverages to meet our nutrient needs.”