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The historian Raphael Hollinshed wrote about the healthy properties of whisky in his 1577 book Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland.
"Being moderately taken, it slows the age, cuts phlegm, helps digestion, cures the dropsy, it heals the strangulation, keeps and preserves the head from whirling, the tongue from lisping, the stomach from womblying, the guts from rumbling, the hands from shivering, the bones from aching…and truly it is a sovereign liquor if it be orderly taken."
And who am I to argue, especially when it comes to womblying (whatever that is)?
It should also be added that during Hollinshed's time, whisky was also used as an antiseptic on battlefields, especially because effective medicine was hard to come by in those days.
During America's Prohibition in the 1920s, whisky could be legally imported into the United States because it was considered as a medicine, not a liquor. Back then, it was sold in pharmacies for use as a tonic.
It can even lead to a long life. Grace Jones, one of Britain's oldest women, attributes her ripe age of 110 to drinking whisky every night for the last 60 years. Her whisky of choice, by the way, is the Famous Grouse blend.
Obviously, if you drink too much whisky every night you probably will suffer more than benefit. But at lower, more moderate quantities, science says that it might be good for you.
Here’s what the uisga beatha (Gaelic for "Water of Life") can do for you and your body:
Whisky Fights Cancer
Whisky has as many anti-oxidants as wine. It contains more ellagic acid (the same antioxidant found in wine) as wine, which helps absorb rogue cells in the body, according to Jim Swan, the celebrated whisky industry consultant dubbed the "Einstein of whisky." at a medical conference in 2005. However, it should be noted that the same acid is easily found in fruit.
Whisky lowers the risk of dementia
A study from 2003 published by the National Institute of Health says that adults who consumed one to six portions a week were half as likely to suffer dementia as non-drinkers and heavy drinkers. A 2011 German study came to a similar conclusion. This applied to alcohol generally as opposed to whisky specifically, though. I should also add that in 2015, Britain's National Health Service released new guidelines recommending alcohol be completely excised from your diet to decrease dementia risk.
Whisky lowers the risk of heart disease
Separate studies in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Harvard University, and the European Heart Journal all come to the same conclusion: A moderate amount of alcohol - maximum seven small glasses of whisky a week - will reduce to some degree the risk of heart disease and heart failure. The European Journal study especially, led by the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, is the most relevant and interesting. They measured antioxidant levels in a group of nine men after they drank wine, aged single malt, and "new spirit" (alcohol just out of the still). They found that the single malt provided the largest concentrations of antioxidants.
Whisky has no fat, no carbs, and almost no sugar
Want to keep drinking but also lose weight? Or you want the drink that goes well with your diet? Whisky contains absolutely no fat, and barely any carbohydrates or sugar. That makes it a better choice for diabetics than most other alcohol, as it will barely change the levels of blood glucose. The previously mentioned Harvard study also finds that alcohol in moderate quantities might even protect against type-2 diabetes. Whisky is also gluten-free, due to the distillation process. When you sample a really sweet whisky, most of that taste comes from other oils and compounds in the whisky, not sugar. This applies even to whiskies with artificial coloring from caramel (yes, that happens even with high-end single malts), which adds an imperceptible amount of sugar.
Whisky is good for colds
It’s been known in Scotland for a long time, but whisky does help fight colds (even if just a little bit). Everyone here knows that hot toddies - whisky mixed with hot water, lemon, and honey can be quite good for you (add spices for flavouring, if you like). The science behind it, according to Dr. William Schaffner, Chairman of Preventative Medicine at Vanderbilt University, is that the alcohol dilates blood vessels, making it easier for mucus membranes to deal with the infection. Here's a hot toddy recipe that might help you get over your cold.