Everyone loves sipping a cool margarita on a hot summer day, but most of us probably don’t think of tequila as a health drink. However, it’s actually true this popular liquor is packed with potential body benefits—including the ability to ward off disease and help trim your waistline—thanks to agavins, a naturally occurring sugar from the agave plant from which tequila is made.
In honor of National Tequila Day on Friday, July 24, we’ve rounded up a handful of science-backed claims that give new meaning to the old adage “Drink to your health.”
1.) Tequila may help fight diabetes
Agavins may lower blood glucose levels for people with Type 2 diabetes, according to an animal study presented in 2014 at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). In the study, researchers in Mexico added agavins to water and found the mice that consumed agavins produced a hormone that kept them fuller longer, and had lower blood glucose levels and produced more insulin compared to the mice that consumed the agavin-free water.
2.) It could also help lower your cholesterol
In a study published in the March 2012 edition of the journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition suggested that fructans—a group of sugars that agavins fall under—may also lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Different from fructose, fructans are long-chain fructoses the body doesn’t absorb into the bloodstream, so glucose levels aren’t altered upon consumption.
3.) And make your bones stronger
Research presented at the 2010 National Meeting of the ACS also showed fructans may strengthen bones and thus help prevent osteoporosis. In the study, mice that ate agave fructans absorbed more and excreted less calcium compared to mice that weren’t fed the type of sugar. The mice that consumed the fructans also showed a 50 percent increase in levels of a protein linked to the accumulation of new bone tissue.
4.) It may fight the common cold
Reaching for tequila may not be your first line of defense when battling the common cold, but it turns out that during the 1930s, doctors in Mexico took just that approach. To treat the cold, they would recommend this elixir to ease nasal, sinus and chest discomfort:
- .5 ounce of tequila blanco
- .5 ounce of agave nectar (to eliminate bacteria and soothe sore throats)
- .5 ounce of fresh lime juice (for Vitamin C)
5.) Tequila may cleanse your colon
Preliminary findings out of the University of Guadalajara in 2007 suggested blue agave, from which some tequila is made, may aid in drug delivery to the colon. While delivering drugs to the colon can prove difficult, as stomach acids often eliminate drugs before they are absorbed in the intestine, researchers observed that specific compounds in tequila resisted that destruction.
6.) It could help ease mild strains and aches
Tequila has long been used as a pain reliever in Mexico, remedying mild aches and strains. At the bar or in the liquor store, reach for 100 percent pure agave tequila, but sip in moderation, as throwing back shots of tequila will only worsen any body pain, including migraines.