In honor of Cholesterol Education Month, we’re exploring the connection between alcohol consumption and cholesterol levels. Read more below about how drinking relates to your cholesterol levels.
Drinking & Your Cholesterol Levels
Is it true that drinking alcohol can help my cholesterol levels?
Multiple studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption can actually lower LDL (“bad” cholesterol), increase HDL (“good” cholesterol that sweeps blockages from the arteries), and improve heart health. In fact, people who enjoy alcohol in moderation can even live longer than those who abstain from drinking altogether.
Moderate consumption is defined as 1-2 alcoholic drinks (12 oz of beer or 5 oz of wine) a day for men and 1 per day for women. HDL cholesterol levels can raise up to 12% in people who enjoy 1-2 drinks per day, while LDL cholesterol levels can lower 4-8%. Heart disease risk is lowered by up to 50%.
The key here, though, is to keep your alcohol consumption at a moderate level. Research also supports that drinking in excess of 3 alcoholic drinks a day will increase heart disease and stroke risk, increase blood pressure, up triglyceride levels, and lead to obesity. Drinking too much can also over burden the heart, leading to heart muscle disease, an irregular heartbeat, and congestive heart failure.
Because of the risks associated with drinking alcohol, the American Heart Association cautions against taking up drinking to lower cholesterol levels or boost heart health. It’s better to just maintain a healthy weight, eat well, and exercise, all of which will help you keep healthy cholesterol levels.