There's a reason Captain Jack looks so good and we've got our money on the rum. Rum is one of the oldest spirits available, becoming part of the tradition and culture of the Caribbean. Produced from sugar cane juice or its by-product of molasses, it is usually aged in oak barrels for extra depth and flavor depending on the house that is making it. Not only is the stuff delicious (rum cake, rum punch, pina coladas...), but it has a surprising amount of health benefits!
While drinking alcohol should always be done in small quantities, there's no denying that our favorite summertime alcohol packs a punch that goes beyond its alcohol content and into its nutritional benefits. So grab the Bacardi and let's get started.
Rum's medicinal properties were a lifesaver for armies and soldiers at war until a few decades ago. During the World War I, a 'tot o rum' was used to help soldiers stay healthy. Before hitting the Front Line, soldiers were given about a tablespoon, or a tot, of rum. The tot also helped warm their bones when they were standing in the muddy trenches all night. While the consumption of alcohol is frowned upon on the front lines now, it was essential back in the day.
Canadian soldiers were in on the rum secret, too. As collected in "'Demon Rum' and the Canadian Trench Soldier" by Tim Cook, Canadian infantryman Ralph Bell wrote,
"When the days shorten, and the rain never ceases; when the sky is ever grey, the night's chill, and trenches thigh deep in mud and water; when the front is altogether a beastly place, in fact, we have one consolation. It comes in gallon jars, marked simply SRD."
So 40 percent proof rum often arrived in two-gallon stone jars marked SRD which stood for Services Rum Diluted. To the soldiers, though, it meant Seldom Reaches Destination. Similarly, the British Army gave rations of rum to its sailors to keep the risk of scurvy at bay, especially those in ports off the coast of India. It was also advised for those with weak immune systems.
Now that we've had a history lesson, let's look at what else your favorite rum punch can do for you. Remember, though, none of this matters if you don't consume rum, and other alcohols, in a responsible and moderate amount.
1. It's Macro Friendly
Whether you drink light rum or dark rum, it weighs in at around 230 calories for around 3.5 ounces, or just about two shots. It contains no carbohydrates and fat. So pass the alcoholic beverage our way, please!
2. Strengthens bones
Rum can increase the bone mineral density. In light of that, moderate consumption may help prevent osteoporosis and alleviate the symptoms of arthritis.
3. Promotes heart health
Just like vodka, rum is a blood thinner and can prevent peripheral artery diseases. Drinking rum can increase good cholesterol, also known as HDL cholesterol, and combat artery blockages, helping to prevent heart attacks and heart disease.
However, it's important to remember that none of this matters when alcoholism becomes an issue. It's important to practice moderate alcohol consumption for any of the benefits of alcoholic beverages to truly work in your favor.
4. Combats muscle pain
Stronger bones lead to stronger muscles. Moderate drinking of rum can help prevent and fight minor muscle pain.
5. Works As An Antiseptic
Rum is an effective painkiller when applied topically, along with being an excellent antiseptic! Using rum to clean wounds will prevent bacteria from growing. Next time you scrape your knee, grab a bottle and make Jack Sparrow proud.
6. Fights the common cold
One of the most useful health benefits of rum for day to day life is that rum can be used to help combat the common cold due to the antimicrobial properties of alcohol.
Drop a shot in some tea and make a toddy the next time you're feeling under the weather.
7. Acts as a sleep aid
Need a solid night of rest? Rum has relaxing qualities, so a small consumption of rum can help contribute to a good night's sleep.
8. Extends longevity
Rum will keep you running. Moderate rum consumption can help with all of the above, which means you can live a longer life. One of the most notable health benefits of rum is that it can increase the life span by two-five years.
9. Reduces risk of Alzheimer's disease
While a correlation between rum and its reduction of dementia has been proven, it's not just rum that deserves this award. One study found that, whether it was red wine or rum, participants who drank two to three glasses of alcohol in any form experienced lower incidences of dementia over time.