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5 Drinks For Winter: How Healthy Are They?

Not all alcoholic drinks are created equal — especially in terms of their calorie content.

MyHealthNewsDaily asked Ruth Frechman, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, to weigh in on the nutritional values of five drinks commonly sipped when the temperatures dip.

Liquored-up hot chocolate

What's in it?

Hot chocolate mix or chocolate bits, milk and spirits such as Irish cream or hazelnut liqueur

Is it healthy?

"Hot chocolate is a lot of sugar. And depending [on] what type of milk it's made with — water, whole milk — that's a lot of fat calories," Frechman said. Processed hot chocolate is generally really high in sugar. "If you go to one of the chain coffee stores, [they serve] full-loaded hot chocolate. It's lot of calories, even before you add the alcohol."

Spiked apple cider

What's in it?

Rum, apple cider

Is it healthy?

"If you're talking healthy, you have some health benefits from apple cider, since there are antioxidants in apple cider. But if you're diabetic, it has a lot of sugar,"  Frechman said.

However, mixing rum with cideris healthier than mixing it with soda, she said. "Just a straight distilled liquor — that's about 100 calories per shot — and then the apple cider, it wouldn't be too bad as far as a drink goes."

Hot toddy / hot whiskey

What's in it?

Whiskey or brandy, hot water, honey, lemon and cloves

Is it healthy?

"A hot toddy wouldn't be too bad, since the [mix-ins] don't contain that many calories," Frechman said.

Champagne cocktail

What's in it?

Champagne and juice

Is it healthy?

"If you mix the champagne with orange juice, you're getting vitamin C and nutrients there. But you would just double the calories [of the juice] because of the calories from the alcohol," Frechman said.

Irish coffee

What's in it?

Whiskey, coffee, sugar and heavy cream.

Is it healthy?

"When you order those in a bar, it would come with full cream, which has a lot of fat calories," Frechman said.

There are about 20 calories in a tablespoon of half-and-half, she said. "If you're making an Irish coffee, and you're pouring in the cream, that can be 100 calories just from the cream. And that's saturated fat, not the good kind of fat." And stirring in a packet of sugar adds another 10 calories.

"So something like that, you'd want to watch the fat calories and the type of calories," she said.

Pass it on: Think of the nutritional components in your favorite wintry drink before you take a sip.

Follow MyHealthNewsDaily staff writer Amanda Chan on Twitter @AmandaLChanThis article was provided by MyHealthNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience.

Amanda Chan was a staff writer for Live Science Health. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.