Liqueur drinks, Nutrient density, and Cranberry juice

Liqueur drinks, Nutrient density, and Cranberry juice

Q: How much sweet-flavored liqueur counts as one alcoholic drink?
Q: Are nutrient density and energy density the same thing?
Q: Does drinking cranberry juice help prevent urinary tract infections?

Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: How much sweet-flavored liqueur counts as one alcoholic drink?

A: The American Institute for Cancer Research’s second expert report on how we can lower cancer risk recommends that alcohol consumption be kept to no more than one standard drink per day for women and no more than two per day for men. The size of a standard drink is defined based on its concentration of alcohol. Some liqueurs have the same alcohol content as regular distilled liquors like vodka and whiskey. For example, some liqueurs like Drambuie, Ouzo and Cointreau are classified as 80-proof, which is how you’ll see alcohol content listed on the label. A standard serving size for 80-proof spirits or liqueurs is a one-and-a-half ounce shot. However, other liqueurs, including some of the chocolate, coffee and cream flavors, are closer to 34- to 50-proof. So a slightly larger 2 to 3 ounces could still be considered one serving of these less concentrated liqueurs.

Q: Are nutrient density and energy density the same thing?

A: No. Nutrient density looks at how many nutrients a food gives you compared to the calories it contains; these calculations take into account not just vitamins and minerals, but also dietary fiber and cancer-protective phytochemicals. The foods highest in nutrient density tend to be vegetables and fruits. Whole grains, beans, low fat dairy, seafood and lean poultry and meat are also considered high. It’s important to note, however, that while a food can be high in nutrients, if it’s loaded with fat and sugar that send calories soaring, it’s no nutritional bargain. Energy density, on the other hand, refers to the calories in a given amount of food. In fact, it is often referred to as calorie density. Unlike nutrient density, high-energy-dense foods are not what you should be looking for, unless you are trying to promote weight gain. Foods low in energy density provide few calories in a larger portion of food to make you feel full with less. Most vegetables (unless they’re fried), fruits and broth or vegetable-based soups are good examples of foods that help you feel full for fewer calories.

Q: Does drinking cranberry juice help prevent urinary tract infections?

A: Cranberries contain two compounds that seem to prevent bacteria from sticking to cells lining the urinary tract. Although many studies have been done, results are hard to interpret, because they use different products (cranberry juice concentrate, cocktail or capsules) and varying doses. While need more research, most experts acknowledge that cranberry juice may help prevent urinary tract infections, mainly in women who develop them repeatedly. Women who rarely get these infections may not derive any special benefit. Research does not currently support a role for cranberries in the treatment of preexisting urinary tract infections. Also note that people with diabetes or prediabetes should be careful since regular cranberry juice is sweetened with large amounts of sugar; choosing a reduced-sugar product is therefore important for these consumers.

***

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $86 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.