Alcohol’s Effect on Cholesterol Levels

Alcohol's effect on Cholesterol Levels

Alcohol’s effect on Cholesterol Levels

Drinking alcohol is common in the United States. Almost half the population drinks regularly. Drinking moderately can actually be good for your health, especially for your cholesterol. In some respects, moderate drinkers are actually healthier than people who don’t drink and people who drink excessively.

Alcohol’s effect on Cholesterol Levels: Types of Cholesterol

Alcohol’s effect on cholesterol levels is beneficial if alcohol is consumed in moderation.  There are two types of cholesterol-HDL and LDL. HDL cholesterol is known as the “good” cholesterol. HDL cholesterol helps the body get rid of bad cholesterol in the blood. The higher the level of HDL cholesterol, the better. If levels of HDL are low, the risk of heart disease increases. HDL travels to the liver, which processes the cholesterol and rids it from the body. LDL, on the other hand, tends to build up in deposits around the body. It causes a buildup of plaque on the walls of arteries. When there is a buildup of plaque, the blood cannot flow as freely, and the risk of heart disease increases.

Alcohol’s effect on Cholesterol Levels: HDL Cholesterol

Alcohol’s effect on cholesterol levels is that it actually raises the level of HDL cholesterol in the blood. So it promotes the removal of excess cholesterol in the body. Consuming two drinks a day can reduce the risk of heart disease by 16.8 percent.

Alcohol’s effect on Cholesterol Levels: Triglycerides

It is important to note that although alcohol’s effect on cholesterol levels can be beneficial, cholesterol is not the only factor in determining overall heart health. Another factor is triglycerides. Alcohol is the major source of excess calories which get turned into fat, so the triglyceride level in the blood increases. Alcohol also slows down fat metabolism. When alcohol is present in the blood, the liver prioritizes removing alcohol in the blood over other metabolic processes, including sugar. While the liver is breaking down the alcohol, glucose gets further processed into triglycerides instead of being broken down and removed from the body. The same two glasses of alcohol that will reduce HDL cholesterol will raise triglycerides and the risk of stroke and heart disease by 4.6 percent.

Alcohol’s effect on Cholesterol Levels: Moderation

To reap the benefits of alcohol’s effect on cholesterol levels, alcohol must be consumed in moderation. Anything beyond the standard definition of “moderation,” however, is considered detrimental to heart health, and alcoholic beverages are usually high in calories, which can lead to unwanted weight gain. Those extra pounds can increase your risk of diabetes and stroke. In addition, overconsumption has been connected to liver disease and even damaged heart muscle. Moderation is considered one to two drinks a day. A drink is 12 ounces of beer, one and a half ounces of 80 proof liquor, one ounce of 100 proof liquor, or four ounces of wine. You do not increase your heart health by increasing consumption. Binge drinking one night is not healthy and will not benefit the heart, even if

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Drinking Alcohol Has It’s Benefits

Benefits of Drinking Alcohol
Benefits of Drinking Alcohol

Drink alcohol, it’s good for you! In moderation, that is. Drinking alcohol in moderation could have its benefits, depending on your age and sex.

Over the last five years, the health benefits of moderate drinking have been widely seen in the headlines. To those who think everything enjoyable must be bad for you, this news comes as a green light to go ahead and drink up. Of course, there are many stipulations – and these studies don’t indicate that people who are sober should take up drinking or that infrequent drinkers should start drinking more. The important word here is drinking in moderation.

Do we know why moderate drinking lowers heart disease risk? A lot of the benefits of alcohol are on the blood vessels and on blockages in the arteries to the heart and to the brain. This might be related to alcohol’s effect on the good cholesterol, the HDL cholesterol. In fact, alcohol affects HDL levels just about as strongly as any other lifestyle factor. People also think that alcohol may lower heart attack risk by acting as a blood thinner.
What are some of the other health benefits associated with moderate drinking? A wide variety of health effects have been attributed to moderate drinking. A lower risk of diabetes has been seen in women and men.

Studies show, for example, that health benefits only come with moderate drinking and are greatest for older men. And even moderate drinking is not recommended for women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, or for people who are under 21. The strongest medical evidence exists for the link between moderate drinking and a reduced risk of heart disease.

Dr. Kenneth Mukamal, an intern at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston, was the lead author of a New England Journal of Medicine study examining the roles of drinking patterns and heart disease that found, after 12 years of follow-up, men who consumed alcohol between three and seven days a week had fewer heart attacks than men who drank once a week.

There actually have been experiments done in which alcohol was administered over a couple of months to people without diabetes. In those studies, most of which have been conducted in women, it looks like moderate drinking improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin. It may actually lower insulin levels altogether and may prevent diabetes through that mechanism. More recently there has been some work on moderate drinking and dementia. When looking at a group of older adults in the United States with an average age in the mid-70s – they found a reduced risk. There has been some more work in slightly younger populations from Europe, and those studies have fairly consistently suggested that older adults who were drinking moderately may have a lower risk of dementia. Although they are not exactly sure what the mechanisms may be behind that.

Some of it may very well be because drinking tends to occur in social settings and just the process of getting out and socializing may be an important way to prevent dementia. There is also evidence that moderate drinking may prevent silent strokes or other subtle types of brain injury that can, over time predispose someone to dementia. This is definitely an area that still needs to be investigated further.

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