Alcohol has two sides: it is associated with partying, having fun, get togethers with families, and long conversations with old friends.
It is also associated with heart disease, alcoholism, cardiomyopathy, obesity, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, heart attacks and even death. So where do we draw the line? Is all alcohol consumption bad? Is it a myth that alcohol is bad for your heart? Well…the connection between alcohol and heart disease is a very complex one. There have been multiple studies done to show the effects of alcohol on your heart and the rest of your body. Depending on how much alcohol a person drinks is what makes or breaks their chances of having heart disease and other diseases.
THE AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION’S RECOMMENDATION
When it comes to weighing out the pros and cons of alcohol and heart disease, who better to get a recommendation from than the American Heart Association. The AHA recommends that all people should drink in moderation. This means that men should consume no more than 1-2 alcoholic beverages a day and women should consume no more than 1 alcoholic beverage a day. The reason women have a lower amount is because the female body metabolizes alcohol differently.
1 alcohol beverage in a women is equivalent to 1 alcoholic beverage in a man. Alcohol also lingers in a woman’s body longer so they should keep their consumption at a minimum. So what does 1 drink equal? Is it 3 tequila shots? A full glass of wine? 1 beer? The AHA says that 1 drink is equivalent to: one 12 ounce beer, 4 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80 proof spirits, or 1 ounce of 100 proof spirits. If you’re drinking more than what the AHA recommends a day, your chances of alcoholism, high blood pressure, obesity, breast cancer, stroke, suicide, and accidents are much higher. Drink in moderation so you avoid all of these risks!
EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL ON THE HEART
The human heart is a very strong muscle. It can handle a lot of pressure and is constantly working, every second of every minute of every day. Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol can put this muscle under more stress than it can handle. Having more than the recommended amount of alcoholic beverages a day can have a toxic effect on the heart. An overconsumption of alcohol can lead to higher levels triglycerides (fat) in the blood. Having a high fat content in your blood will lead to all kinds of heart problems such as congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy.
All of these heart problems can come about for someone who already has a healthy heart. If a person already has a weakened heart and suffers from high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, certain blood disorders, or any other kind of cardiovascular disease, their chances of having negative effects are much greater. It is always best to talk to a doctor before you begin drinking alcohol.
CAN ALCOHOL BE GOOD FOR THE HEART?
Recently, there have been more and more studies that show that drinking in moderation can actually have a positive effect on the human heart. It may offer protection AGAINST heart disease. When you think about alcohol and the heart, most people immediately think about red wine. This study has shown that the flavanoids and antioxidants in the red wine can have a positive effect on your heart. However, the studies do not suggest that the protection against heart disease was strictly from red wine consumption.
Other lifestyle factors such as increased physical activity, a healthy diet, and a stress free lifestyle may have all contributed to this. Aside from red wine being good for your heart, alcohol in general has been shown to have a positive effect on the heart. The biggest benefit of alcohol consumption is the raise in HDL, or “good” cholesterol levels. This HDL cholesterol is the good kind of cholesterol that helps to clear our arteries out from plaque build up. Another benefit of alcohol is its anticoagulant properties.
Anticoagulation is the inability to form clots. Blood clotting can be good in some situations but generally speaking, have a blood clot can lead to much more serious problems. Drinking alcohol in moderation, as recommended by the AHA, can keep your platelets from clumping together, keeping your arteries clot-free!
All in all…drinking in moderation is okay. You don’t have to cut alcohol out of your diet completely. There are some healthy benefits to this beverage! When it comes to alcohol and heart disease, as long as you are not overdoing it, you should be okay.