You may have heard that moderate alcohol consumption can benefit your heart, but did you know it can also work to improve HDL cholesterol, too? HDL is considered the good type of cholesterol that removes built-up plaque from the arteries, allowing for healthy blood flow. LDL cholesterol, on the other hand, clogs up the arteries, causing them to become stiff and preventing blood from going through.
It is well known that healthy lifestyle habits can go a long way in improving your cholesterol levels and, in turn, protect your heart from a cardiovascular event. Exercising, eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight are just some of those ways you can try to improve your cholesterol. Now, there’s one more item to add to your heart-healthy to-do list.
Moderate alcohol consumption raises HDL cholesterol
The researchers analyzed data from 80,081 Chinese adults over the age of 40. After their alcohol intake was assessed at baseline, the participants were categorized into one of the five groups: never, past, light, moderate, and heavy drinkers.
Moderate drinking was described as 0.5 to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. The researchers also took into account what kind of alcohol the participants were drinking.
HDL cholesterol was measured at baseline in 2006, and again in 2008, 2010, and 2012.
During follow-up, the researchers found that moderate drinkers experienced a slower decline of HDL cholesterol, compared to never drinkers and heavy drinkers. The results also showed that HDL levels decreased more slowly with beer (consumed in moderation, of course). The study included an insignificant number of wine drinkers, so it was difficult to determine whether wine would affect the rate of HDL reduction. Previous studies have shown the benefits of red wine for heart health, so further research is required.
The authors concluded, “Alcohol consumption was associated with slower HDL decreases, with moderate consumption slowest. However, the data suggested differential effects on the basis of alcoholic beverage type.”
The key here is moderation, as drinking more won’t offer you greater benefits. So if you enjoy a beer every now and then, you don’t have to feel too guilty about it.