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Does Alcohol Affect Your Cholesterol

Wine: Is Resveratrol The Key

How Drinking Alcohol Affects Your Cholesterol

Its good for my heart is a sentence many people have uttered as they pour themselves another helping of vino, but what evidence is there to support this conventional wisdom?

The Mediterranean Diet is often lauded for its health benefits, particularly regarding heart disease. A 2017 study is one of many that specifically identify its positive effect on cholesterol and overall lipid levels.

One of the staples of the diet is a moderate helping of red wine.

The idea of wine being good for cardiovascular health has for many years been used as a possible explanation for The French Paradox, a term coined in the 1980s concerning the relatively low levels of coronary heart disease in France despite the nations high consumption of saturated fat.

The key question, of course, is whether the wine actually contributes to either phenomenon or is simply carried along by the other healthy aspects of the respective diets and lifestyles.

It has been suggested that polyphenols found in wine may be the key. One such polyphenol that is found in grape skins, resveratrol, has had been shown to have a positive effect on the cardiovascular health of mice.

Unfortunately, researchers cannot agree whether resveratrol benefits humans in a similar manner. A number of studies which you can read about here have found evidence that it does.

Resveratrol is far from the only polyphenol found in wine, however

How To Lower Cholesterol

If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medications or both.

Here are some ways to manage your cholesterol.

Eat heart-healthy food

What you eat can make a big difference to your cholesterol levels.

Cut back on foods high in saturated fats like:

  • pies
  • oily fish.

Drink less alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol can increase your LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. So drinking less is a good way to lower your cholesterol.

The Ministry of Health recommends no more than 10 standard drinks per week for women and no more than 15 for men. One standard drink is equal to:

  • a standard can of 4% beer
  • a small glass of wine
  • a small single shot of spirits

If you have high cholesterol or you’ve been diagnosed with a heart condition, you may need to drink less than this.

Quit smoking

Smoking makes your LDL cholesterol stickier and reduces the amount of HDL cholesterol in your blood. It also damages the artery walls. This increases the build-up of plaque in your arteries and can cause risk of heart attack and stroke.

Quitting smoking is a great way to lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.

Move more

Sitting less and being more active are great ways to reduce high cholesterol.

This doesnt mean you have to join a gym or take up running it just means you need to move your body more throughout the day. Ideally you should do 30 minutes of activity a day.

You could try:

Read more about the benefits of exercise.

Cholesterol medication

Increase Your Physical Activity

Physical activity increases levels of HDL cholesterol the good cholesterol that removes LDL cholesterol from the blood. Vigorous aerobic exercise is best.

If you havent been exercising much lately, gradually build up to the recommended amount of physical activity:

  • People aged 18-64 years should do 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week.
  • People aged 65 years and over should aim for a total of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days .

Moderate-intensity exercise is a level that increases your heart rate and breathing but allows you to keep talking. Vigorous intensity exercise makes your heart rate higher and makes you breathe more heavily.

Resistance training and muscle-toning exercises can increase HDL cholesterol. Aim to do this twice a week.

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Genetics And Cardiovascular Benefits

Some evidence shows a link between genetics and the cardiovascular benefits of moderate alcohol consumption. There are two variations of an enzyme that breaks down alcohol in your body. One does it quickly and the other more slowly.

If you are a moderate drinker with two copies of the slow-acting enzyme gene, you have a much lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those who drink the same amount but have two copies of the fast-acting enzyme gene. Individuals with one of each fall somewhere in the middle.

Is Wine A Better Option

Does Drinking Alcohol Affect Your Cholesterol?,healthycholesterollevels ...

Weve all heard the news that a glass of red wine a day may be good for you, but research suggests that other forms of alcohol may also be beneficial.

Red wine has been extensively studied. In moderate amounts its been shown to reduce cancer, heart disease, depression, dementia, and type 2 diabetes. Moderate intake of beer has also been shown to reduce heart disease and stroke risk.

While beer does contain some antioxidants like red wine, the specific ones found in barley and hops are different than those found in wine grapes. Its still unclear if beer antioxidants offer the same benefits that those in red wine do, though preliminary research is promising.

Overall though, its how often and how much you drink not what you drink that really seems to affect your heart.

One large study showed that men who were moderate drinkers were 30 to 35 percent less likely to have a heart attack when compared with people who didnt drink at all.

And men who drank every day had a lower risk compared to those who drank only once or twice a week. This included men who drank wine, spirits, and, of course, beer.

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Alcohols Effect On Cholesterol

Ethanol is the specific type of alcohol that is ubiquitous in alcohol drinks. Over the years, a substantial body of evidence that moderate consumption of any alcoholic drink lowers the risk of coronary artery disease has accumulated, which is partly attributed to its effect on cholesterol.

Even a study published last year, in which the authors say no amount of alcohol is good for you, acknowledged the cardiovascular benefits of moderate drinking.

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A possible explanation is that alcohol appears to boost concentration of apolipoprotein A , a compound plays in important role in transporting good HDL cholesterol, as well increasing transport rates. This subsequently reduced LDL cholesterol levels, as the HDL is more effective at removing it from the bloodstream.

Improvements in other lipid-related biomarkers, including HDL cholesterol itself, have also been identified.

Such studies suggest that alcohol delivers these benefits regardless of the specific type of drink. In one of the studies, vodka was the drink of choice, while others use beer, wine, and other spirits.

However, for each study that concludes all alcoholic beverages are equal when it comes to their effect on cholesterol, another suggests that some are more equal than others. In particular, red wine is often highlighted as the most effective.

Iii Research On Alcohol And Cholesterol


Researchers made a study using three independent general Japanese populations. The total number of male subjects was 2,289. The number of females was 1,940. Thus, the total number was 4,229. Their mean age was 63.3.

Alcohol consumption was positively linked with HDL but negatively with LDL level.

Their conclusion was simple. Alcohol consumption has a causal role in not only increasing HDL cholesterol levels but also decreasing LDL cholesterol levels.1

Postmenopausal Women

Postmenopausal women were in an eight-week controlled diet experiment. The control group drank no alcohol. One group consumed one drink per day. The third group had two drinks daily. The energy provided by the three diets was the same. After the diet, the researchers tested the HDL and LDL levels. Then they compared the latter groups to those of the control group.

Women who had one drink daily had lower LDL levels. Having two daily drinks did not reduce them much more. One daily drink increased HDL some. However, two daily drinks greatly raised HDL levels. In short, one drink a day was good for cholesterol levels. However, two drinks per day was much better.2


Other researchers found better HDL levels among nonsmoking men and women who had at least seven drinks weekly. Then the researchers compared them to nonsmoking abstainers.

Drinking in moderation has a positive affect while smoking appears to have a negative affect on HDL levels.3

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Data Collection And Biochemical Measurements

The KNHANES included well-established questions to determine the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of the subjects. These included questions on age, sex, education level, income, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, exercise and medical history. Daily energy and nutrient intakes were assessed using a 24-h recall method and a food-intake frequency method. Height and weight were measured with the participant wearing light clothing and no shoes. Body mass index was then calculated as weight divided by the square of height . Blood pressure was measured with a mercury sphygmomanometer after the subject had rested for 5 min in a sitting position.

Blood samples were collected by venipuncture after 1012 h of fasting. Total cholesterol, HDL-C and triglycerides were measured by enzymatic methods with commercially available kits. Non-HDL-C was calculated as total cholesterol minus HDL-C. All blood analyses were carried out within 2 h of blood sampling by a laboratory certified by the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare.

The study protocol was approved by the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare and was conducted in accordance with the Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects, as defined by the Helsinki Declaration. Study participants provided written informed consent.

How Drinking Alcohol Affects Your Cholesterol

Does Moderate Alcohol Raise Bad Cholesterol? : Fresh Kitchen

Your liver produces all the cholesterol your body needs. However, your cholesterol levels can change when you eat certain foods and drinks, including alcohol.

The same organ that produces cholesterol is also responsible for processing alcohol. Thats why excessive alcohol consumption can increase your cholesterol levels, specifically your bad cholesterol levels.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines excessive drinking as:

  • consuming more than two alcoholic drinks a day if youre a man
  • consuming more than one alcoholic drink a day if youre a woman

The NIAAA defines a drink as any alcoholic beverage that contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol. This amount of alcohol appears in:

  • 12 ounces of regular beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits

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Understanding Bad And Good Cholesterol

Its widely believed that the goal with cholesterol is simply to lower it, but thats not entirely true. While its recommended that you keep your total cholesterol level below 200 mg/dL, there are two components of cholesterol to consider: LDL and HDL .

LDL is bad cholesterol, and you should try to keep that number below 100 mg/dL. But HDL is good cholesterol, and you want to raise it if its below 60 mg/dL and maintain it above that level.

Alcohol can help you increase your HDL level, with red wine being particularly helpful. Plus, it contains antioxidants called polyphenols that may help protect the lining of blood vessels in the heart. One polyphenol that may be especially helpful is resveratrol.

But heres where the nuance comes in: Doctors generally dont recommend that people start drinking red wine, given that there are several risks associated with alcohol consumption . However, if youre already enjoying a glass of red wine with your dinner, continuing to do so may help your heart health.

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Signs Of Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol use disorder occurs when a drinking problem hits a point where it becomes severe.

Symptoms may include:

  • Drinking longer or more than you intended
  • Inability to quit drinking
  • Drinking to the point of feeling sick
  • Cravings for alcohol
  • Withdrawal when youre not drinking
  • Negatives effects on your personal and professional life caused by drinking
  • Building up a tolerance to alcohol, and the need to drink more to feel the effects

Anyone can develop AUD. However, some things may contribute to it like stress, mental health issues, grief, and various traumatic experiences. While not everyone who experiences these things will develop AUD, these factors can have an impact.

There are also key differences between alcohol misuse and addiction. Misuse occurs when alcohol has adverse effects on your personal and professional life. An addiction occurs when youre no longer able to control the habit.

Iv Resources On Alcohol And Cholesterol

Howtolowercholesterol Does Alcohol Affect Your Cholesterol Levels? Does ...

Web Pages

Libonati, J. and Schwinden, K. Good Cholesterol, Bad Cholesterol. Bloomington: Authorhouse, 2011.

Rinzler, C. and Graf, M. Controlling Cholesterol for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ : Wiley, 2008

Senior, N. and Cuskelly, V. Eat to Beat Cholesterol. Chatswood, NSW: New Holland, 2016.


Baer, D. J., et al. Moderate alcohol consumption lowers risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nurs, 2002, 75, 593-599.

De Oliveira, E. et al. Alcohol consumption raises HDL cholesterol levels. Circ, 2000, 102, 2347-2352.

Earnst, N. et al. The association of plasma high-density lipoprotein cholesterol with dietary intake and alcohol consumption. Circ, 1980, 62, IV 41-52.

Koppes, L., et al. Blood cholesterol levels of 32-year-old consumers are better than of nonconsumers. Pharm Biochem Behav, 2000, 66, 163-167.

Linn, S. et al. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol and alcohol consumption. Am J Pub Health, 1993, 83, 811-816.

Suh, I. et al. Alcohol use and mortality from coronary heart disease. Ann Intern Med. 1992, 116, 881-887.

References for Alcohol and Cholesterol

  • Tabara, Y., et al. Mendelian randomization analysis in three Japanese populations. A causal role of alcohol consumption. Athero, 2016, 254, 242-248.
  • Baer, D., et al. Moderate alcohol consumption lowers risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr, 2002, 75, 593-539.
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    How Does Alcohol Raise Your Cholesterol

    • When you drink alcohol, its broken down and rebuilt into triglycerides and cholesterol in the liver. So, drinking alcohol raises the triglycerides and cholesterol in your blood.
    • If your triglyceride levels become too high, they can build up in the liver, causing fatty liver disease. The liver cant work as well as it should and cant remove cholesterol from your blood, so your cholesterol levels rise.
    • Alcohol can lead to the combination of a high triglyceride level along with low HDL cholesterol. This can lead to heart disease.

    Alcohol can affect your health in other ways too:

    • it can lead to weight gain, raising your risk of heart disease
    • it can raise your blood pressure, which also raises your risk of heart disease
    • it can lead to some types of cancer, liver disease, pancreatitis, depression and dependency.

    Health Risks From Alcohol

    It appears that people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol have a lower risk of heart disease. However, the key there is moderate amounts. This means one drink for women and two drinks for men daily, with a drink being 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.

    The problem is that alcohol is an addictive substance, and people who start drinking with heart health in mind may quickly find themselves consuming excessive amounts of it. If that occurs, their risk of several kinds of health problems increases. For example, drinking too much alcohol elevates the risk of high blood pressure and stroke, and it can also increase the level of unhealthy triglycerides in the blood.

    Excessive alcohol consumption also raises your risk of certain types of cancer and cirrhosis of the liver. Plus, it increases your risk of many types of accidents, including car accidents. Plus, alcohol is high in calories, so drinking too much of it can cause you to gain weight, which increases your risk for other diseases like diabetes.

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    Alcohol Consumption And Overall Risk For Cardiovascular Disease

    It is essential to think of the impact of alcohol consumption on HDL cholesterol level in perspective of every variable that plays a role in heart illness. Although 30 ml of alcohol can improve HDL, it is imperative to keep in mind that exactly the same quantity of alcohol at the same time elevated the triglycerides levels increasing the risk of getting a cardiovascular disease of approximately 5%. Therefore, alcohol may lower heart illness somewhat but can also increase it.

    Alcohol And Heart Health: Separating Fact From Fiction

    Cholesterol: Fiber, Alcohol & Moderation

    Does a glass of wine a day keep the doctor away? Theres a popular belief that alcohol especially red wine is good for the heart. But the truth isnt so clear-cut, says Johns Hopkins cardiologist John William McEvoy, M.B.B.Ch., M.H.S.

    Heres what you should know before you raise a glass to your health.

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    Treatment For High Cholesterol

    Making lifestyle changes, especially changing some of the foods you eat, and regular physical activity, are very important to help reduce high LDL cholesterol.

    You may also need to take cholesterol-lowering medicines to help manage your cholesterol and reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Talk to your doctor about finding the most appropriate treatment for you.

    How Alcohol Affects Cholesterol

    Most people know that fatty food can increase cholesterol levels but its not so easy to understand the association between alcohol consumption and elevated cholesterol.

    Cholesterol is vital for key body functions such as absorbing vitamin D and producing five key hormones including the sex hormones androgen and estrogen. It also produces anti-inflammation cortisols and stress-management hormones.

    Your liver produces natural cholesterol and thats all your body needs for good heart health.

    What we eat and drink can add excess cholesterol into the bloodstream. If were not careful, it can become dangerously high and increase risks to heart health and overall wellbeing.

    There are two types of cholesterol High-Density Lipoproteins and Low-Density Lipoproteins . HDL is often referred to as the good cholesterol but the body needs both types to function properly.

    Problems start when bad LDL cholesterol levels become too high. An excess LDL level starts to build up in the blood stream and stick to the artery walls creating plaque that hinders blood flow.

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