Discovering Shochu – Episode 14 – Purported Health Benefits Are Quite the Allure

Throughout Japan, health benefits associated with drinking Honkaku Shochu have been highlighted in the headlines.  The sudden climb to prominence may seem recent, however, its reputation as a healthy drink is well founded from long back in Japanese history.  According to “Honcho-Shoku Kagami”, a food encyclopedia written 317 years ago in 1695, Honkaku Shochu had medicinal applications as an oral remedy as well as an antiseptic.


Due to episodes of healthy upsides built-up over generations along with medical research studies in modern times, knowledgeable Japanese have turned to Shochu as their choice of liquor.  The following examines the well-known benefits in health and well-being, associated with drinking Honkaku Shochu.


1.) Shochu to De-Stress:

Excessive stress can lower the immune system in the human body, causing a higher risk for diseases. Consuming alcohol can help the body decompress, and in a social scene, promote a relaxed ambiance where people can unwind.


2.) Shochu Lowers Chances of Hangover:

A hangover is caused when a person, for reasons such as over drinking, is unable to breakdown acetaldehyde, an organic chemical compound produced in the liver to break down impure substances contained in alcohol. Honkaku Shochu is distilled, thus contains fewer impurities than most alcoholic beverages, leading to lower chances of having a hangover.


3.) Breaks Up Blood Clots:

Recent medical research findings show that Honkaku Shochu stimulates Urokinase enzymes that break up thrombus or blood clots within the vascular system.  These blood masses can break away leading to embolism with pain and numb symptoms, and in severe cases to cardiac arrests and strokes. The chart below measures the activity level of Urokinase in a human body, an hour after drinking Honkaku Shochu. The findings are astonishingly clear. The activity level of enzymes in Honkaku Shochu that break down blood clots exceeds all other major liquor categories: 1.6 times more than beer, and 1.5 times versus wine.  These statistics are not new news to the Japanese, rather, they are common knowledge amongst drinkers. This is the reason why many turn to Honkaku Shochu for a lifestyle of healthy alcohol enjoyment.


Red wine has been promoted “heart healthy” quite extensively.  Polyphenols are anti-oxidants in red wine that promote well-being including preventing blood clots.  Though Polyphenols can prevent the formation of  blood clots, Urokinase contained in Shochu goes beyond and breaks up blood clots that have already formed.


4.)Shochu as a  Low-Calorie Drink:

Obesity is the number one lifestyle-related disease among adults in America.  Generally speaking, calories from alcoholic beverages are different from calories gained from sugar, fat and protein. 30% of alcoholic calories are expended when body temperature increases and through simply breathing. Further, vis-a-vis other liquors, Shochu contains 140 kcal per 1 oz, as opposed to 196kcal per ounce of other alcoholic beverages.


There’s a common misconception that Shochu contains more calories than Sake and wine due to its rather high alcohol content per volume. The fact is, Honkaku Shochu is most often enjoyed mixed with a bit of cold water as a Mizuwari, or with warm water as an Oyuwari so calories decrease even further when diluted.  Additionally, Honkaku Shochu is a distilled product containing absolutely no sugar, fat nor protein, and is therefore a low-caloric drink.