How can sake be good for your health?

How can sake be good for your health?

Have you heard of the old saying, “酒は百薬の長(Sake wa hyakuyaku no cho)”?

When translated into English, it means “(An appropriate amount of) alcohol can do more good than medicine.”

Although alcohol is usually thought of as a beverage for entertainment, there are truly benefits that alcohol, including Japanese sake, can bring to our health in ways we have not imagined.

Nutrients contained in Sake

Sake is made from rice, water, and sometimes other ingredients which are fermented in the process of brewing.

Although the ingredients are simple, the nutrients produced during fermentation remain intact and are there for us to absorb while we take a sip of our favorite drink.

So what nutrients are there and what do they do?


Adenosine is usually found in all alcoholic beverages, but even more so in Japanese sake.

One of the benefits that adenosine can bring to our body is that it helps widening our blood vessels, and hence improving our blood flow.

When an enhanced blood circulation, not only do we feel warmer, but our muscles can be relaxed as well. Imagine curing our stiff shoulders while having a cup of warm sake!

At the same time, as a side-effect, adenosine can make us feel drowsy, so we should always be attentive to how much we are drinking!

Amino acid

Japanese sake also contains various types of amino acids, one of which is the essential amino acid, which consists of nine types.

These essential amino acids, despite being literally essential to our well-being, cannot be produced in the human body – in other words, they must be obtained from external sources.

And one of the sources can be – you guess it (and well, we’ve said it) – Japanese sake!

A lack of these amino acids can cause us various health problems, such as a decrease in muscle mass.

As a side-note, amino acids are also the source of umami and richness, and the amount of amino acids in sake determines its flavor.

Vitamin B6

Sake also contains vitamins such as vitamin B6.

Vitamin B6 is essential for protein absorption. In other words, even if you consume a lot of protein, without the appropriate amount of vitamin B6, your body cannot absorb protein properly.

As a result, a lack of protein, can affect our bodily functions and lead to a weakening of the immune system.

Beauty benefits of drinking sake

As we all know, Japanese sake contains koji mold, an ingredient produced during the fermentation process.

It has been shown that the koji acid in sake can suppress the production of melanin, which is one of the sources causing skin blemishes. This is why sake can be considered effective in preventing spots!

In addition, as mentioned before sake can bring about improvement in our blood circulation, which is a much-welcomed impact for our skin as well!

Does sake make one fat?

Since sake is made from rice and tastes relatively sweet, it is believed by some that sake is high in calories and therefore, fattening. But is it really so?

To answer this question, we have compiled a table of the calorie content of various types of alcohol:


Kcal (100ml)









Shochu – Otsurui


Shochu – Korui

146 kcal








As shown above, it doesn’t seem like sake is a bad choice, especially when we compare it with whiskey and brandy!

Furthermore, instead of being stored in our body as fat, calories absorbed from alcohol are usually released as heat energy. This is the reason why when you drink alcohol, you may feel hot.

Ways to drink sake in a healthier way

Sometimes all it takes is a bit more attentiveness to help ourselves remain healthy while having a good drink.

For example, instead of drinking alcohol on an empty stomach, having some cheese or other relatively fatty good before drinking alcohol can help our body to absorb the alcohol in a mild pace.

However, as with everything else, there is little to gain from taking things too far – just as we need to watch how much we have been drinking already in one sitting, we have to be conscious of the food and the amount we eat too. Always drink sufficient water as well for better digestion!


Japanese sake, like many other alcohol beverages, is seen as a luxury item that enriches our lives which is obviously a point taken.

But drinking to excess leads to not only daily discomfort such as headaches and hangover. It can increase our risk of having diseases and even strokes, which can sadly cause serious damage to our body.

Although it is believed by some that the appropriate amount of sake is "1 to 2 gou (180 ml) per day,” remember to stop drinking when you are starting to feel tipsy. Maintain a healthy drinking lifestyle, and hopefully we can all enjoy the benefits sake can bring us along the way!