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How Does Drinking Alcohol Affect Your Cholesterol?

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Updated May 27, 2014

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Question: How Does Drinking Alcohol Affect Your Cholesterol?
Answer: There have been many studies that have shown that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may lower LDL (“bad” cholesterol), raise HDL (“good” cholesterol), and promote a healthy heart. “Moderate consumption” consists of one to two alcoholic drinks per day for men and one alcoholic drink per day for women. One drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine.

Current studies reveal that HDL levels can increase by up to 12% in people who drink between one to two alcoholic beverages per day. LDL levels can be lowered by 4 to 8% with moderate alcohol consumption. Additionally, moderate consumption of alcohol has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from heart disease by up to 50%.

There is a limit on the amount of alcohol you can consume, however. Studies have also shown that drinking more than three alcoholic drinks per day can actually increase your risk of heart disease. So, you can drink any type of alcohol, but do so in moderation: One drink a day if you are a healthy woman, and one to two drinks a day if you are a healthy man.

Sources:

Kloner RA, Rezkalla SH. To drink or not to drink? That is the question. Circulation. 2007 Sep 11;116(11):1306-17.

Powers E, Saultz J, Hamilton A, et al. Clinical inquiries. Which lifestyle interventions effectively lower LDL cholesterol? J Fam Pract. 2007 Jun;56(6):483-5.

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