Alcohol Boosts Good Cholesterol
A few studies have found that people who drink alcohol in moderation have lower rates of heart disease, and might even live longer than those who abstain. Alcohol has also been tied to a lower risk of blood clots and decreased levels of inflammation markers.
Many believe that the main benefit of alcohol comes from its ability to raise HDL cholesterol levels .
In particular, red wine might offer the greatest benefit for lowering heart disease risk and death because it contains higher levels of natural plant chemicals — such as resveratrol — that have antioxidant properties and might protect artery walls.
When Is Alcohol Consumption Beneficial To Cardiovascular Health
Regular moderate alcohol consumption seems to offer the most cardiovascular benefits. For men, this allows for up to two drinks per day.
On the other hand, it only allows women to have one drink each day. Regular moderate alcohol consumption has been found to lower the risk of certain cardiovascular diseases by increasing HDL cholesterol levels.
Among the different types of alcohol, wine seems to offer the most cardiovascular benefits. Wine is a good source of resveratrol.
Resveratrol is a polyphenol and an antioxidant. It offers the following cardiovascular benefits:
- Lowers LDL cholesterol level
- Reduces the risk of inflammation
- Prevents blood clotting
So, wine, in moderation, does offer some promising health benefits. In fact, one study shows moderate alcohol drinkers had a significantly lower risk for a heart attack compared to people who didnt drink.
Aside from wine, beer also contains plant sterols which can reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, beer doesnt contain enough plant sterol to make a meaningful impact on cholesterol levels.
Factors Leading To High Levels Of Triglycerides & Cholesterol
There are several factors that can cause high triglycerides or increase a persons risk of developing high triglycerides. These include:
- Frequently eating more calories than ones body uses
- Being obese or overweight
- Being older
Hyperlipidemia is a term for elevated blood levels of fats. It includes increased cholesterol and/or triglycerides. One concerning element of hyperlipidemia is that many times this condition is asymptomatic, meaning that there are often no signs to the individual that anything is wrong. However, behind the scenes, hyperlipidemia can significantly increase a persons risk of developing coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, and peripheral vascular disease, which can then prompt a heart attack, stroke, and/or other problems. This is why there are guidelines of when individuals should be screened for hyperlipidemia, which is done through blood tests.
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Pathophysiology And Oxidative Stress
The factors responsible for the apparent cardiovascular benefits of light-to-moderate alcohol intake are uncertain. The inverse association between red wine consumption and mortality by CVD was initially published in 1979 . Later on, in 1992, the concept of the French Paradox was introduced to describe an epidemiological observation in which the French show a relatively low incidence of CHD, despite the consumption of a diet rich in saturated fat and the presence of risk factors similar to those of other populations . The relationship between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular events or all-cause mortality in apparently healthy people or patients with CVD has been depicted as a J-shaped curve attributed to a dose-related combination of beneficial and harmful effects .
If Lifestyle Changes Arent Enough
Take medications, if you need to, to lower your cholesterol into healthy ranges. Drugs like statins can be very effective, says Dr. Danine Fruge, MD, ABFP – Medical Director at the Pritikin Longevity Center, but do continue in your efforts to eat well and exercise because a healthy lifestyle can give you far, far more than drugs alone.
With a healthy living program like Pritikin, youre not only reducing cholesterol quickly, youre also creating changes throughout your body that can profoundly improve your overall well-being. Youre reducing blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Other heart disease risk factors like triglyceride fats are also dropping dramatically. Youre also reducing inflammatory factors that sicken arteries. Youre shedding excess weight. And, quite simply, youre feeling better, much better. Many of our guests at Pritikin tell us, I had no idea I could feel this good again.
Can any pill or combination of pills do all of the above? I highly doubt it. But a healthy lifestyle like Pritikin can.
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Is Beer Bad For Cholesterol
What about your choice of beverage? When it comes to alcohol and cholesterol, is beer worse than wine?
Ultimately, its the quantity and frequency of drinking that has the biggest impact on your healthincluding your cholesterol. Beer contains both alcohol and carbohydrates, so too much beer will certainly increase the presence of triglycerides in your body and increase your risk of fatty liver.
A few small studies have suggested that drinking beer in moderation is good for your cholesterol levels8. The barley in beer, like the grapes used to make wine, does contain heart-healthy polyphenols. But more research is needed, and once again youre probably better off eating straight whole grains than drinking beer to reduce your cholesterol.
Which Alcoholic Beverages Have The Most Benefits
Actually, how you drink your alcohol is more important than the particular alcoholic beverage you choose. One drink per day does not have the same health implications as drinking all seven drinks in one night.
When it comes to having a heart attack, the cohort data shows you are at greater risk for myocardial infarction if you consume alcohol at least 3 or 4 days per week.
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How Can I Drink Less Alcohol
Cutting down on alcohol can be easier than you think. Try these tips to help you:
- check the percentage of alcohol in your drinks and swap to lower strength options
- only drink while youre having a meal
- take the bottle off the table while youre eating, so you wont top up without thinking
- alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks
- make your drinks last longer by adding ice, water or mixers
- try drinking more slowly
- watch out for very large glasses
- choose smaller amounts, such as a bottle of beer instead of a pint
- buy a measure so you know how much youre drinking.
How Much Is Moderate
I have been stressing on the point of drinking alcohol in moderate amounts, but it is imperative to know how much is defined as moderate and how much is not. For women, it is one drink a day, and for men, two. In case of beer, one drink usually refers to 12 oz., and for wine, it is 5 oz. And when it comes to 80-proof liquor, 1 and a half oz. is considered as one drink.
Alcohol can also influence medications prescribed for managing high cholesterol levels. Such medications can cause side effects like drowsiness, and fatigue, and these can be heightened by drinking alcohol during the course of medication. And to add to this, alcohol may interfere with the medications, and may make them less effective.
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Soda And Sugary Beverages
Sugar-sweetened drinks like soda, fruit drinks with added sugars, sweet teas, and others affect your blood cholesterol, too. What may come as a surprise is just how little it takes to make a negative impact. When you look at the science, it’s likely considered one of the worst drinks that cause high cholesterol.
A 2020 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association analyzed data from more than 6,000 people over a 12-year period and determined that adults who drank one or more sugary beverages every day had a greater risk of developing high cholesterol. Specifically, the study found that regular drinkers of sugar-sweetened beverages had a 98% higher chance of developing low HDL, the good cholesterol that helps rid the blood of LDL bad cholesterol, and a 53% greater chance of having high triglycerides, a type of blood fat that’s unhealthy at high levels.
The study shows strong evidence that consuming too much sugar impacts your cholesterol levels, one of the key components of metabolic syndrome linked to cardiovascular disease, say the researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston University, and Duke University.
Balancing The Pros And Cons
Though the AHA notes that studies have established a possible link between moderate alcohol consumption and both increased HDL and reduced risk for diabetes, the association also cautions about the simultaneous risks of imbibing: liver damage, stroke, cancer, negative effects on your heart and obesity.
“The debate about drinking alcohol for its benefits on cholesterol keeps going back and forth,” says Dr. Boblick. “Drinking in moderation increases good cholesterol. Drinking too much increases triglycerides and blood pressure, erasing any benefits.”
And, according to Harvard Health Publishing, a strong connection exists between good HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels: If your triglyceride level goes up, it tends to force your HDL cholesterol down . Therefore, Harvard Health explains, too much alcohol can have the opposite effect of moderate consumption.
Cleveland Clinic also warns that, for some people, drinking at all could be dangerous. This includes people with a personal or family history of alcohol abuse, liver disease or pancreatitis, those who have diabetes, an irregular pulse or elevated blood pressure or triglyceride levels as well as anyone who’s had a heart attack or stroke.
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Alcohol And Your Heart
Moderate drinking, per American Heart Association guidelines, means no more than two 12-ounce beers or 4-ounce glasses of wine a day for men and one a day for women. And, though the AHA acknowledges that, for years, studies have shown a correlation between moderate red wine consumption and improved heart health specifically a reduced risk of dying from heart disease it cautions that you should consider the bigger picture before pouring that glass after work.
According to the AHA, no studies have demonstrated a clear cause-and-effect relationship, and it’s also unclear whether the reduced risk for heart disease has a direct correlation to red wine consumption or is a result of other factors. For instance, says the AHA, it’s possible that if you drink red wine, you are also more likely to subscribe to a heart-healthier lifestyle in general.
Though the AHA notes that modest amounts of beer and other spirits also have been connected to a reduced risk for heart disease, it says that red wine gets the most attention because of its antioxidant content, namely resveratrol. Research has linked this compound, which is present in the skin of grapes, to lowering blood pressure and reducing cholesterol.
“Any alcohol drink starts out at about 100 calories,” Dr. Boblick says. “The worst drinks are mixed drinks with lots of added sugar. Current recommendations are to keep added sugars to less than 10 percent of your calories better yet, keep them to less than 5 percent.”
Red Wine And Grape Juice
Alcohol may raise levels of good;HDL cholesterol;by as much as 5 to 15 percent, research shows and red wine is particularly beneficial because its polyphenol antioxidants may also lower LDL levels. If youre not into vino, grape juice can provide some of the same heart-healthy benefits.
Try this:;Stick to one 5-oz glass of wine a day for women and two for men. For grape juice, Smithson suggests 8 oz per day of purple grape juice for women and 16 oz a day for men pick 100 percent fruit juice, not the sugar-added varieties. You can also snack on purple or red grapes, which contain the same antioxidants with the added benefit of fiber, notes Smithson.
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How Drinking Beer Affects Cholesterol
Beer is probably the most popular alcoholic beverage in the world. Although beer sometimes garners a bad reputation due to its alcohol content, it also contains a few surprisingly healthy ingredients.
Barley, one such ingredient that is used to make beer, contains polyphenols, which have been linked to lowering cholesterol levels and promoting heart health.
There are also some studies suggesting that alcoholic beverages such as beer may also be able to improve heart health in modest amounts. But can drinking beer also lower your cholesterol levels?
Focus On Fruits Vegetables Whole Grains And Beans
Our typical American diet is now abbreviated as SAD by scientists nationwide because its full of foods that do sad things to both hearts and waistlines. Hyperprocessed foods like potato chips and French fries. Sugar-saturated drinks. And fatty, artery-clogging meats and full-fat dairy foods like cheese.
We dont have to become complete vegetarians to get our cholesterol levels into healthy ranges, studies on the Pritikin Program have found, but clearly, the more vegetables, fruits, potatoes, and other naturally-fiber-rich plant foods we eat, the healthier well be.
Plant foods high in soluble fiber are especially beneficial in lowering total and LDL bad cholesterol levels. Good sources include beans , yams, oats , barley, and berries.
For simple tips on bringing more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans into your life, here is a;5-day sample healthy meal plan;from the doctors and dietitians at Pritikin Longevity Center.
How To Approach Alcohol
Though it sounds complicated, Kunal Karmali, MD, a cardiologist with Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, notes that the advice when it comes to beer, whiskey and other forms of alcohol and their effects on cholesterol can actually be fairly simple.
“If someone already drinks alcohol, then I advise they drink in moderation,” he says. “But if someone is not, I certainly don’t recommend they start. For those who do drink alcohol, discipline needs to play a role in that protective benefit of alcohol consumption. The person needs to already have the discipline to consume alcohol in moderation.”
As for what moderation means, Jocelyn Henning, director of the Stroke Program and Patient Safety at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, says it’s key to keep consumption low to ensure that alcohol is protecting the heart rather than harming it.
“Some studies do show a cardio-protective effect for light-to-moderate drinking,” Henning says. “Women should have no more than one drink per day, and men no more than two drinks a day. Too much alcohol can lead to inflammation in the blood vessels.”
Keep in mind that one drink means 12 ounces for beer, 5 ounces for wine and 1.5 ounces for spirits.
Iii Sample 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 associated with HDL but negatively with LDL level.
The researchers 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 participated 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 significantly reduce them further. One daily drink marginally increased HDL. However, two daily drinks greatly raised HDL levels.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. The participants averaged 32 years of age.
Drinking in moderation has a positive affect while smoking appears to have a negative affect on HDL levels.3
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Who Should Avoid Alcohol
Individuals with the following medical conditions shouldnt drink alcohol:
- Pregnant women
- Weak heart or heart failure
- Liver diseases
- Pancreatic diseases
Certain medications may also interact poorly with alcohol. So consult your doctor before you drink if youre on any maintenance medication.
Aside from that, alcoholism is a highly heritable disease. Individuals who have a family history of alcohol use disorder should be extra careful with their alcohol consumption as well.
The Effect Of Beer On Cholesterol And Triglycerides
There are not a lot of studies solely looking at how beer can affect your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Most studies look at all types of alcoholic beverages and their effect on cholesterol, triglycerides, and heart health as a whole. Studies have examined the consumption of beer products on lipids in amounts ranging from 60 to 340 mL daily from anywhere between 4 and 6 weeks on average.
It was found that, in some studies, people drinking at least one beer beverage a day saw an increase in HDL cholesterol levels by up to 11 percent. Additionally, LDL levels in some studies were lowered by up to 18 percent, although some other studies did not see a significant decrease in LDL. The manner in which beer affects your lipid levels is not known. In these studies, the type or brand of beer was not usually noted.
One study also showed that one beer daily could reduce oxidation of LDL. However, consumption of three or more beers daily actually promoted LDL oxidation. Studies have shown that oxidized LDL can promote inflammation of the inner lining of blood vessels and contribute to the formation of atherosclerosis leading to the development of cardiovascular disease.
Although there were some positive effects noted from drinking beer and other types of alcohol, there were also some negative effects: elevated triglyceride levels were also noted as consumption of beer increased. Having very high triglyceride levels is another risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease.
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