Getting to the Heart of a Healthy Diet: Alcohol
There is no doubt that drinking large amounts of alcohol is bad for your health. However, there is some evidence that some alcohol consumption may have some benefits. Given that, the American Heart Association recommends that adults who drink do so in moderation.
Here are some considerations if you plan on continuing to drink alcohol:
- Consult your physician to discuss its benefits and risks given your family history. Certain people should not consume any alcohol, such as pregnant women, people with liver disease, or those who are on certain medications.
- Moderate intake is considered to be one drink per day if you are a woman and one to two drinks per day if you are a man.
- Periodically review your use of alcohol with your doctor. You may need to change your drinking behavior if you begin to consume too much or experience harmful consequences as a result of drinking alcohol.
- Never drink alcohol if you are going to be driving or operating machinery.
People who drink moderately have heart disease less often than nondrinkers. Alcohol appears to increase HDL, the good form of cholesterol. Some other ways that researchers believe alcohol may help protect the heart include:
- The alcohol or some other substance in alcoholic drinks may prevent platelets in the blood from sticking together. This, in turn, will reduce clot formation and the risk for heart attack or stroke.
- Flavonoids and other antioxidants in red wine may protect the heart and arteries.
However, there are many negative health effects associated with alcohol intake, as well. This is especially true with heavy alcohol consumption. These include:
Last reviewedMay 2014by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.