On the downside, alcohol can make you sloppy, indiscriminate, and as blabbery as Joe Biden on sodium pentothal. Plus, combining mugs and shots is scientifically proven to increase your risk of mug shots. Just ask Lindsay Lohan and Mel Gibson.
On the positive side, a lot of research on red wine (and some on beer and white wine) indicates that one drink a day can help protect against stroke, coronary artery disease, dementia, and more. Indeed, some studies suggest that drinking in moderation can actually help deflate a beer belly: In a recent study of 8,000 people, Texas Tech University researchers determined that those who downed a daily drink were 54% less likely to have a weight problem than teetotalers. Between one and two drinks a day results in a 41% risk reduction. But that’s where the trend ends. Consumption of three or more daily drinks increases your risk of obesity, says the study.
And therein lies the rub. If you can limit yourself to one or two a day, then you can get the health benefits without too many extra calories–if you choose wisely. Here’s a rundown of what, exactly, you’re really getting each time you reach for a cold one.