Health benefits of vodka include better cardiovascular health, reduction in stress quotient, relief from tooth aches and bad breath. Its astringent nature helps in keeping the skin healthy and promotes hair growth. Vodka also possesses valuable antiseptic, anti-bacterial qualities, helps in disinfecting the wounds and works as an effective cleaning agent.
Vodka is a popular beverage which is generally composed of ethanol and water. It is a trendy drink which often scores quite well in the bar menu presented in restaurants, parties or small gatherings. Attributing to the versatility of colorless, flavorless vodka which merges seamlessly well with other drinks without disturbing or neutralizing the flavor of the additional ingredients, makes it one of the preferred choices amongst alcoholic beverages. It is used in the preparation of a variety of popular cocktails such as vodka martini, vodka tonic and Bloody Mary. The name ‘vodka’ evolved from ‘voda’, a Slavic word which literally means ‘water’. Vodka is generally produced by the distillation of any plant matter rich in starch or sugar including various grains such as corn, rye, wheat and other materials like potatoes, grapes and soybeans.
Traditional preparation of vodka usually aimed at maintaining an alcoholic value of 40% by volume. At present, the alcoholic content in vodka produced in different countries varies depending upon the standards set by them. The European vodka maintains a minimum alcoholic content of 37.5%; while all the Vodka sold in the United States maintain a standard of minimum 30% alcohol by volume. Vodka from other countries such as Russian, Ukraine and Poland still has 40% alcohol content by volume. Other than alcoholic content, vodka can also be segregated into two main groups .i.e. flavored vodka and clear vodka. Flavorings which are added to vodka include ginger, cinnamon, lemon, red pepper, vanilla, some special herbs, fruits and spices and the preference widely varies in different parts of the world.
Historical origination of vodka still remains a topic of discussion and debates attributing to the lack of enough evidence available regarding its instigation. Some sources advocate the initial production of vodka to have occurred in Russia around 9th century while others convey that it may have happened in Poland around 8th century. For a number of centuries, the vodka drink has been there quite differently from what it is today. This attributes to the fact that during earlier times, the spirit was originally used as a medication and was quite different with respect to its aroma, appearance and flavor present today. The alcohol content present in the spirit was just 14% which is the maximum amount that can be managed using natural fermentation process.
Apart from being a hangout drink, the medicinal relation of vodka which existed in the early years of its existence has also been appreciated by the modern world and is used as a medicinal remedy attributing to its positive effects in a range of health conditions. In the recent decades, scientific research has supported the affirmative effects of consuming moderate amounts of vodka on the human metabolism.
Nutritional value of vodka
Vodka is a carbohydrate and sugar-free drink which provides very few calories when consumed neat or without any fat-based mixers. It offers no harmful cholesterol and fats.
Health benefits of vodka
Vodka beverage is appreciated for its exclusive therapeutic value both as a consumable medication as well as an external lotion which can be topically applied on the body. Health benefits of vodka which can contribute fruitfully in a range of health conditions have been discussed as under:
Aids in reducing stress: Among a range of alcoholic drinks present on the bar table, vodka may have better relaxation effect on an individual. As supported by scientific findings, vodka helps in decreasing the stress factor in the body more efficiently than other boozy drinks such as red wine. It has sleep inducing properties and has a calming effect on the brain.
Anesthetic qualities: Vodka has been quite famously used in Russian folklore for curing practically all ailments ranging from a just a mild headache to a condition of common cold to a bad hangover. It is also used to make vodka tinctures in the world of herbal medicines to be consumed orally or used topically as an anesthetic. Tinctures is usually prepared by soaking the preferred kind of leaves, flowers and stem in vodka which extracts the essential oils rich in healing qualities without asserting the flavor of the herbs. Freezing a plastic bag filled with vodka and applying it as an icepack on aches aid in numbing the pain.
Relieves tooth ache: Swishing little amount of vodka may be just a shot around an aching tooth may prove useful. Letting some of the vodka get absorbed in the gums may help in reducing the pain in the infected area. Vodka mixed with cinnamon in specific quantities work as an effective mouthwash and cures bad breath.
Healthy skin and hair: Vodka may come to your service as a beauty aid. It works wonderfully well on the skin and help cleanse the pores and tighten them attributing to its astringent properties. Vodka has been found quite useful and is included in a variety of botanical beauty stuff such as cleansers, toners and anti-acne products. It promotes healthy hair growth by cleansing the scalp and eliminating toxins from the hair. Vodka also helps in treating the problem of dandruff and is used in the preparation of hair stimulating tonics and conditioners.
Cardio-protective vodka: Another benefit of drinking vodka is its protective effect against heart diseases. Vodka has a dilating effect on the arteries which stimulates free flow of blood. Unobstructed flow of blood in the heart components prevents the development of major illnesses such as stroke and cardiac arrest. It also aids in promoting the amount of HDL (good) cholesterol in the body.
Antiseptic properties: Vodka has antiseptic qualities which help in preventing the development of infections from instances like animal bite. Alcohol content present in vodka helps in sterilizing the wound. Colorless, flavorless vodka is useful as an extractive solvent and is used by the herbalists to make alcohol-based ointments. Such salves vaporize readily leaving behind only the curative properties of the specific herbs used. Avoid using vodka based liniments on dry, burned or sensitive skin unless mentioned in the instructions.
Apart from these, Vodka helps cure the cold sores and helps disinfect the exposed dermis in an open blister. Vodka also helps in bringing down the fever when rubbed on the back and chest area. It helps in treating the problem of odorous feet and helps disinfect them. Vodka has diuretic properties which promotes urination and easy flushing of toxins out of the body. Moderate amounts of vodka can prove as a sensible choice while following a low-carb diet or weight-loss regime. It offers low amount of calories with absolutely no carbohydrate content as against other alcoholic drinks like ‘beer’ which is high in carbohydrates. The idea is to drink it neat, on the rocks or mixing with something without many calories.
Culinary usage: Vodka comes to rescue when your pie crust turns cakey. The spirit in vodka averts the dough from making excess gluten. It helps in making the dough moist and makes it perfect for a flaky crust recipe. After all this good work, the humble vodka silently evaporates during the baking process without leaving any hint.
Other uses of vodka
Cleaning agent: Vodka works as an excellent cleanser. The alcohol in vodka helps in cleaning the caulking around the showers and bathtubs by killing the mildew and mold. It cleans the eyeglasses and also extends the life of razor blades which are soaked in vodka post shaving. Basically it kills the germs and averts rusting.
Easy dry cleaning: Sprays made from vodka helps in neutralizing the absorbed scents from the clothes.
National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has pronounced moderation as 3-4 drinks in a day with not more than 14 drinks in a week for men and 2-3 drinks in the day for women limiting to seven drinks in a week.
Vodka: word of caution
Although vodka may contribute in the above mentioned health benefits, however excess consumption of alcohol in any form enhances the risk of major diseases associated with multiple organs such as brain, liver and pancreas. It can interfere with the healthy functioning of immune system, elevate blood pressure, may lead to stickiness in the platelets or narrowing of arteries resulting in obstruction in the passage of blood implicated in cardiovascular diseases. Excessive intake of vodka may lead to faster heart beat attributing to its stimulatory effect on the adrenaline hormone. This can also lead to intake of excess air in the lungs and stimulation of liver to secrete more glucose in the blood. Over-production of adrenaline hormone in the body may cause excessive tiredness and general body fatigue.
Alcohol intake during pregnancy may result in fetal alcohol syndrome, a mental impairment in the babies caused due to its excessive consumption.
Certain medications which are used for treating diabetes, digestive problems and heart diseases may also interact with vodka. It may increase the risk of side effects or reduce the effectiveness of the medication. It is always advised to consult a doctor and read the instructions carefully while taking such drugs. Drinking before driving may hamper alertness and enhance the risk of accidents. People who are not able to handle or react with nausea, vomiting or any other symptoms even after a small drink should refrain from drinking alcohol at all.
Moderate consumption of alcohol is what that forms the basis for all the scientific studies that advocate the effectiveness of vodka in various health conditions. However, a medical consent is always advisable before considering vodka for therapeutic relief. Normally, people mix vodka with high sugary juices which may accentuate the calorie count of the drink and nullify the low-calorie attribute. Vodka by itself is a clear drink with fewer additives as compared to other darker alcoholic beverages. On the whole, a prudent peg of vodka can provide substantial health related benefits and makes a perfect guilt-free drink to enjoy.
Moderation is the key to health with vodka!!