How reliable are those myths? We become very sensitive and skeptical when it comes to health facts. We, SAKETALK only believe in scientifically proved facts. No myths. That’s why we have done a vast and lengthy (and fun) research on Sake health benefits, reading through hundred pages of journal articles. Shame most of the references are only in Japanese as a very little study on Sake has been done abroad. Anyway, here’s the list of 13 Sake health benefits!
- 1 Sake Health Benefits
- 2 Sake Beauty Benefits
- 3 Sake Health Benefits Can Be Enjoyed Only by Moderate Drinkers
13 Sake Health Benefits That Are Scientifically Proved
Sake Health Benefits
1 Reduce Cancer Risk
- National Cancer Center in Japan did a 17-year cohort survey of 265,000 Japanese men to find that everyday Sake drinkers have less cancer risk than non-Sake drinkers. Their mortality rate ratios compared to non-drinkers are 0.86 for all death causes, 0.79 for all cancers, and 0.61 for stomach cancer. 
- The amino acid in Sake atrophies and annihilates cancer cells. 
- Dr. Okuda at Medical Department, Aichi University has reported that some elements in Sake inhibit proliferation of bladder, prostate and uterine cancer cells. Glucosamine in Sake also activates anti-tumor Natural Killer cells.
- Additionally, Sake has been found to have a lower mortality rate from cirrhosis and lung cancer than other alcoholic beverages such as beer, whiskey, and Shochu. 
2 Prevent Osteoporosis
Amino acids in Sake (e.g. Valine, Leucine and Isoleucine) helps recover and build skeletal muscle, preventing osteoporosis. Also, Koji, one of the main ingredients of Sake, has 5 types of Cathepsin-L inhibitors which help prevent osteoporosis. 
3 Prevent Cardiac Disease and Cerebrovascular disease
Moderate drinking Sake prevents cardiac disease and cerebrovascular disease by preventing blood clots and reducing cholesterol.  Moderate intake of Sake increases urokinase, a substance that releases blood clots.  Sakekasu or Sake lees have an effect on reducing cholesterol level. 
4 Prevent Diabetes
Dr. Okuda has found an insulin-like activator in Namazake (fresh, unpasteurized Sake) and Sake lees.  Diabetes occurs due to a shortage of insulin. The insulin activator in Sake may help resolve this issue, thus preventing diabetes.
5 Prevent High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, can lead to Cerebrovascular diseases such as strokes, angina and heart attacks. Sake has 9 types of peptides (Sake itself 3 types and Sake lees 6 types) that inhibit the enzymes which, if activated in excess, cause high blood pressure. 
6 Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Sake has been found to have 3 types of peptides that help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and Vascular dementia. Peptides inhibit PEP, the main culprit of the diseases. Sakekasu, Sake lees or by-product of pressing, also has other 3 types of peptides. 
Sake Beauty Benefits
7 Moisturize Your Skin
Sake has far more moisturizing elements such as glycerol, or glycerine, and amino acids than other alcoholic beverages.  Those elements are often used in cosmetics. Sake Bath (adding a bit of Sake to bath) has better moisturizing and heat-retention effects than bath without Sake (with and without bath powder). 
It has not been found yet which substances in Sake are responsible for this effect. However, some researchers attribute it to the interactions among hundreds of nutrients in Sake such as amino acids, organic acids, saccharides, vitamins, nucleic acids, and esters.
8 Skin Whitening
Sake, Sake lees, and Koji have a variety of substances that inhibit performance of melanin, the main culprit of sun spots, age spots, and freckles.  No wonder why Sake brewery workers have smooth, white hands.
9 Prevent Rough Skin
Sake has been used as a skin toner for centuries in Japan.  This is because Sake contains plenty of saccharides and amino acids which are now used as cosmetic materials. Some research has found Sake contains α-Ethyl Glucoside (α-EG) which gives bitterness to Sake taste ; this α-EG treats rough skin through cornification of epidermal cells. This is why Sake has been used for cosmetics and bath in Japan.
10 Prevent Allergies
Sake helps prevent allergies by applying it to your body or drinking it.
- Applying: Some researchers report that atopic eczema can be relieved by applying Sake to the affected part. They attribute this to the moisturizing effect of Sake. 
- Drinking: Sake and Koji contain 5 types of substances that inhibit the enzyme called Cathepsin B , the main cause of an allergy.  Thus, moderate intake of Sake may prevent allergies from pollen, food and house dust mites.
Sake contains antioxidants called Ferulic acids, possibly having an anti-aging effect.  Ferulic acids in Sake are a powerful UV light absorber, preventing skin aging.
What’s more, ferulic acids are a powerful antioxidant. Drinking Sake will inhibit Lipid Peroxidation, helping you retain youthful skin.
Some people (even Japanese) have a wrong perception that Sake is fattening as it contains carbs (sugar). However, Sake calories are not as high as you think, actually lower than beer for the same standard drink.
Also, Sake and Sake lees contain substances that inhibit absorption of starch and promote that of protein.  So Sake may prevent overweight, but, of course, it only applies to moderate drinking.
Albeit not restricted to Sake, moderate alcohol drinking reduces the mortality rate. Most studies including American Council on Science and Health report that light to moderate drinkers has less mortality risk than abstainers, and heavy drinkers are at the highest risk. 
Sake Health Benefits Can Be Enjoyed Only by Moderate Drinkers
Remember that those Sake health benefits do not apply to heavy drinkers. Heavy drinking will reverse most of those Sake health benefits to serious problems. Please drink moderately if you care about your health.
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References for Sake Health Benefits (Only #16 is in English.)
|||Y. Takizawa, 2000. ‘Health and Medical Science of Sake. Healthier life with Sake.’ < https://www.nrib.go.jp/kou/pdf/41kou07.pdf >.|
|||Y. Takizawa, et al. 1994. ‘Public Health’ 58, (6) p.437-440.|
|||T. Yamada, et al. 1998. Biosci. Biotech. Mol Biochem, (5) p.907-914.|
|||H. Sumi, 1998. ‘Amazing Medical Efficacy of Sake’ Makino Shuppan.|
|||S. Imayasu, et al., 1999. ‘Effectiveness of Sake on Your Health & Beauty’ JOURNAL OF THE BREWING SOCIETY OF JAPAN, Vol.94 (2).|
|||Y. Iemori, 1993. ‘Science of perennial youth and long life’ Vol.3, p.39-61.|
|||S. Imayasu, et al., 1999. ‘Effectiveness of Sake on Your Health & Beauty’, JOURNAL OF THE BREWING SOCIETY OF JAPAN, Vol.94 (4).|
|||D. Fujimoto, 1992. ‘Science of Skin Care’, Kodansha, Tokyo.|
|||I. Shiro, 1936. ‘Collection of references on Japanese and Chinese alcoholic beverages’ Yubunsha, Tokyo.|
|||T. Horikoshi, et al., 1998. J. Soc. Cosmet. Chem. Japan, 32 (1), p.10-16.|
|||A. Fujioka, et al., 1994, ‘Skin in Europe and Japan’ 56, p.1.|
|||T. Yamada, et al., 1998. Biosci. Biotech. Mol Biochem, 62, (5), p.907-914.|
|||Y. Matsunaga, et al., 1993, FFBS. Lett., 324, p.325-330.|
|||T. Ota, et al. 1998. Biosci. Biotech. mol Biochem., 87 (12), p.922-926.|
|||T. Okuda, et al., 1995. ‘Study report on Sake lees – byproduct of Sake making’.|