How does moderate drinking protect the heart?
How does moderate drinking protect the heart?. Most drinkers stop far short of a pint of whiskey or six-pack of beer every day. That’s a good thing, because moderate drinking may be an effective weapon against heart disease. More than 60 studies suggest that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). If you drink moderately, in fact, you are 40 percent less likely to develop coronary heart disease than nondrinkers are.
The federal government defines moderate drinking as up to two drinks a day for men and up to one drink a day for women. The different recommendations reflect the fact that women’s bodies break down alcohol more slowly than men’s do.
Alcohol does several favors for the heart. Most important, it boosts the amount of HDL (“good”) cholesterol in the blood. This compound helps prevent the buildup of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, the artery-clogging fat that provides the raw material for a heart attack. However, the AHA points out that regular physical activity also raises HDL cholesterol — so going to the gym instead of reaching for a drink would probably be a good choice. Alcohol also thins the blood, lowering the risk of dangerous blood clots. Small amounts of alcohol may slightly lower blood pressure as well, but probably not enough to make a difference.