Is Saké a Magic Potion?
Updated: Jul 24
Most that like to enjoy alcoholic beverages wish to believe it could be some sort of magical elixir or a cure-all medicine, keeping you around well beyond the years while giving you radiant skin or rid harmful diseases. Although that is not one hundred percent the case, some studies show while drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation while considering what you are drinking and how much could actually assist on this lower end of the spectrum.
For those of us that look forward to that afternoon or evening glass of wine or cocktail, hoping to ease any tension from the day we need to remember that moderation is key. There are still proven facts that extreme consumption of alcohol in general is known to unfortunately cause weight-gain and some diseases such as cirrhosis, heart attack, and stroke over the years. Now this is not to persuade us beverage lovers how to choose their own poison because by no means are we immortal. But some beverages including red wine and Saké in moderation have shown that if you are on a health kick, these could be the beverages to consume.
Science has proven weight-gain and weight loss contribute to one thing; calories in vs. calories out. So, like many of us if you are trying to lose weight the best way is to burn more calories throughout the day than what was consumed and repeat over time. Therefore, by adding a glass or two from your favorite vineyard or that piece of your favorite dessert may put you over the caloric daily intake if you are not able to burn them off within the day. #ViciousCycle I like to call it.
What does that mean when it comes to calorie consumption from alcohol? Especially when you are in the comfort of your own home (pre, during, or after quarantine life) free pouring from the bottle with the car keys safely tucked away? Or what kind of alcohol can give you a nice, relaxed feeling without overdoing it? At the end of the day, a calorie is a calorie, so it all depends how much you consume, right? Well, maybe. When it comes to wine verses beer or spirts it is always a good idea to look at the ABV or alcohol by volume. Here is a brief chart showing approximate calculations on the caloric value of different alcoholic servings. The highlighted section is an example of what a moderate to heavy drinker may choose to consume over the course of an event or a few hours. In this case let's assume this beverage consumer only partakes once a week.
What you may notice from the chart above is the calorie count of Saké Vs. Wine. Which leads to if you’re going to consume alcohol but are searching for the possibility of a magic potion, you may choose Saké as your go-to beverage of choice. The average calorie count is actually higher in Saké over the plethora of varietals of fermented grape juice options and it is also sweeter. Since most choose to enjoy Saké either hot or cold with Japanese cuisine consisting of Sushi and Rice (not always). It can then be assumed when the rice expands in your belly, you may not want to indulge and add any additional liquid during and after your meal. Hence, consumption less alcohol overall.
Saké is Japanese wine made from rice, so like other alcohol made from grain, Saké is actually “brewed” similarly to beer. Just take away the hops and add Koji. If you are wondering what Koji is, it is a prettier word for mold but full of flavor! Saké ferments to the point of being almost triple the ABV of a regular light beer so your buzz will happen a lot sooner off a glass of Saké. This could possibly lead to potential less intake in volume.
Let us define drinking in moderation. WebMD suggests drinking an average of 1 drink per day for women and 2 per men.** So by defining the example above, the approximate calculation could equal to a weekly consumption average as well. Some studies and articles do suggest drinking Saké in moderation can reduce the risk of cancer and can help to prevent diseases such as Osteoporosis, High Blood Pressure and Type 2 Diabetes. Sign me up!! Some studies also claim Saké can be a digestive aid due to lactic acid in the brewing process.* but from the looks of it the amount of lactic acid in Saké today doesn’t amount to what it used to be in older times. There are also claims Saké can make your skin clear due to the production of melanin in the skin so sunspots may seem less visible.* Dang, I wish I was allowed to drink Saké in High School when the acne peaked!
The process of how Sake today is made had evolved over time which leads to believe the original benefits of Old Japanese Saké may not hold true to how it is brewed today. With more research needing to be done on the health benefits of Saké perhaps these ideas can trigger present-day brewers to want to look into bringing back older processes and provide these additional health benefits to its consumers. But with all of that said, if there is a hint of evidence of an alcoholic beverage having some slight health benefit, pour me a glass!