GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Friday marks Cinco de Mayo, a day set aside to commemorate the Mexican Army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza.
Ok, let's be honest...for many it's more about firing up the blender and making a fabulous tequila cocktail.
In recent days, we've noticed posts and videos popping up on social media touting the medicinal benefits of the clear liquor, saying it helps you sleep, lose weight, and can even cure a common cold. Question is, are those claims true, or a hearty shot of hyperbole?
We decided to find out as part of a new initiative KARE 11 is launching called Verify. We will examine stories or claims that are buzzing on social or the mainstream media, and try to verify whether that story is true, false, or perhaps a little bit of both.
To answer the question "Is tequila good for you?" KARE 11's Cory Hepola talked to two expert sources: Simeon Phelps, Beverage Director for the popular Nico's Taco and Tequila Bar in Minneapolis as well as Allina Health Dietician Elizabeth Vander Laan.
Phelps brought up agave, a cactus varietal that is the main ingredient in tequila. Some experts tout its ability to replace sugars, aiding in weight loss. Agave's anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties have also been cited, and the website sheknows.com claims the Aztecs used agave syrup to treat wounds because of its antibacterial properties. Three years ago, the American Chemical Society did report that a sweetener created from the agave plant could help certain people with diabetes lose weight.
So if tequila is made of agave it has to be good for you, right? Not so much, said Vander Laan.
"There's not even that type of sugar left in it because it's fermented out," Vander Laan said, talking about the process of distilling agave into tequila.
Does it really help you sleep?
"It's a depressant, so it might help you actually get to sleep, but I'm not sure it's that restful sleep," asserted Vander Haan. The National Sleep Foundation agrees, saying alcohol interrupts your circadian rhythm, blocks REM sleep and can aggravate breathing problems.
How about weight loss? "An ounce and a half of hard alcohol is about 80 calories," says Vander Haan, not even mentioning the sweet, caloric stuff tequila is frequently mixed with.
And that whole dead about curing colds? "They used to use it back in the 30's, back when you could order all sorts of crazy things for the Sears catalog, right? No, there's no evidence to support that," Vander Haan insisted.
At this point, we can safely say KARE 11 has verified that tequila is NOT good for you, despite some of the claims you may have seen on social media. Vander Laan does say that moderate alcohol use of any variety may have some positive heart benefits for some, but alcohol is also hard on your liver, increases the risk of certain cancers, and can be addictive.
If you're going to drink tequila this Cinco de Mayo, Vander Haan says to do it in moderation, and if you're not a tequila drinker.... don't start swilling it for your health.
Elizabeth Vander Haan, Dietician, Allina Health Systems
Simeon Phelps, Beverage Director, Nico's Taco and Tequila Bar