We know that the food we eat can have an impact on our cholesterol levels, but did you know that alcohol can play a role, too? It’s been commonly suggested that a glass of red wine a day can actually benefit cholesterol and heart health, but there are still plenty of adverse effects associated with alcohol consumption.
Numerous studies have pointed to the fact that consuming alcohol, preferably red wine, in moderation can help promote heart health and even longevity. On the other hand, excessive drinking can actually increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, raise blood pressure, contribute to obesity, and increase triglycerides in the blood.
Heavy consumption of alcohol has also been linked to liver disease, weakened heart muscles, and even congestive heart failure. The American Heart Association does not recommend adding alcohol to your daily diet as a way of supporting a healthy heart. Instead, they advise eating well, maintaining a healthy weight, and partaking in regular exercise.
If you already have a health condition, you should always check with your doctor whether drinking alcohol is actually safe for you. Alcohol can aggravate certain health conditions and can lead to negative side effects when interacting with medications.
Your diet can definitely raise or lower your cholesterol levels. Even if you think you’re playing it safe because there’s no cholesterol in alcohol, there are other ways in which booze can negatively impact your heart numbers. For example, beer contains carbohydrates and alcohol, which can increase your triglyceride count. Elevated triglyceride levels can contribute to heart disease.
Beer also contains plant sterols, which bind to cholesterol and carry it out of the body. This may sound promising, but the researchers have found that there is not enough of plant sterols in beer to cause a significant dent in your cholesterol levels.
Hard liquor, like whiskey and vodka, also do not contain any cholesterol, but when served in pre-mixed cocktails, these drinks come with loads of added sugar, which can affect cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Moderate drinking is defined as having one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. Studies that have revealed the positive effects of moderate drinking on cholesterol and heart health use this definition. Drinking more than the recommended amount has been linked to negative health outcomes.
It is difficult to say what to drink and how much to drink when it comes to cholesterol and heart health. Generally speaking, if you want to improve your heart numbers, it’s best to stick with healthy lifestyle choices. As alcohol can take a toll on many different aspects of your health, avoiding it is probably safer in order to reduce other associated complications such as liver disease. Not to say that you can’t enjoy the occasional drink, but making alcohol a part of your daily diet may not be worth it.