The Benefits of Cognac

Although alcohol has many naysayers, it can be a healthy addition to your diet — when taken in moderation. Drinking cognac every day may actually have some positive effects.

Many of the health benefits attributed to Cognac are due to its antioxidant content. (Image: 5PH/iStock/GettyImages)

Cognac is a type of brandy that comes from the Cognac region of France. Learn how to include the spirit as part of a healthy way of life.

Tip

Many of the health benefits attributed to Cognac are due to its antioxidant content. However, too much of any alcohol, including Cognac, is not a positive addition to your diet.

Cognac Has a Long History

Cognac is a type of brandy distilled from wine and made in the Charente and Charente-Maritime regions of France. The name "brandy" comes from the term "brandewijn" or "burnt wine." Cognac itself is named for the town of Cognac, which is about 250 miles south of Paris.

French law indicates that Cognac comes from a very specific grape variety, is distilled twice in special pots and then left for a prescribed period of time in Limousin oak barrels. The spirit's origin goes all the way back to the 17th century. The distillation process was developed to help wine from the Cognac region withstand travel to other European cities.

Every part of the process of cognac production takes place within the areas of the Charente and Charente-Maritime. Cognac carries a high price tag because it has very limited production and high production standards. This can make it less accessible for many people, so consider giving it as a gift if you can.

Possible Cognac Benefits

Alcohol, as explained by the Harvard School of Public Health, can be considered both a "tonic and a poison." Moderate amounts may be good for circulation and heart health. It may even protect against type 2 diabetes and gallstones. Moderate drinking is roughly defined, in the United States at least, as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1 ½ ounces of spirits. Cognac is a spirit.

Excessive drinking is responsible for preventable deaths, including car accidents, heart damage and liver disease. Abuse of alcohol interferes with brain health, mood and relationships. All alcohol, including cognac, contains ethanol, a molecule that has direct effect on the stomach, heart, gallbladder, liver and brain.

The American Journal of Public Health published research called the Nurses' Health Study in September 2016, showing that small, frequent amounts of alcohol consumed over the course of a week affords health benefits, more so than those involving consumption of the same volumes in just one or two days per week. This means that a little cognac each day could be a good thing — but a large amount on the weekends could be bad.

Beer, wine and liquors (cognac among them) are associated with lowering cardiovascular disease risk, explained the study. Up to one drink per day is associated with decreased risk of hypertension, stroke, heart attack, sudden cardiac death, cognitive decline, gallstones and all-cause mortality. Of course, always consult with your doctor about the possible benefits and risks of alcohol consumption when it comes to your personal constitution.

Anitoxidants in Cognac

Cognac is unique among spirits in that it has major antioxidant constituents, including ellagic and gallic acids, as well as vanillin. A study published in a July 2014 issue of Talanta showed that the antioxidant capacity of cognac improves with age, too.

Antioxidants in alcoholic beverages, including those in cognac, may be the reason spirits offer some health benefits.

Antioxidants help reduce the activity of free radicals, compounds that can cause harm if their levels in your body get too high. Free radicals come from exposure to pollution, as a natural effect of aging, and from some of the foods you eat.

The antioxidant ellagic acid has anti-inflammatory effects that can be powerful in addressing obesity, insulin resistance, artherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes and some cancers, according to research in Advances in Nutrition in September 2016.

In March 2015, the Royal Society of Chemistry Advances published conclusions about gallic acid, noting that it has a diverse range of applications in its free radical scavenging activity. Its potential as a polyphenol gives it likely anticancer, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral and anticholesterol properties.

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