“When the first reports appeared linking moderate alcohol consumption with lower rates of heart disease, many scientists thought that some other habit shared by drinkers, not the drinking, accounted for the benefit. Today the evidence strongly points to alcohol itself. Based on the best estimates available, one drink a day for women and one or two a day for men cuts the chances of having a heart attack or dying from heart disease by about a third and also decreases the risk of having a clot-caused (ischemic) stroke.
Like many drugs, alcohol’s effects depend on the dose. A little bit can be beneficial. A lot can eventually destroy the liver, lead to various cancers, boost blood pressure, trigger so-called bleeding (hemorrhagic) strokes, progressively weakening the heart muscle, scramble the brain, harm unborn children, and damage lives.
If you don’t drink alcohol, you shouldn’t feel compelled to start. You can get similar benefits by beginning to exercise (if you don’t already) or boosting the intensity and duration of your physical activity, in addition to following the eating strategy we describe. But if you are an adult with no history of depression or alcoholism who is at high risk for heart disease, a daily alcoholic drink may help reduce that risk. This is especially true for people with type 2 diabetes or those with low HDL that just won’t budge upward with diet and exercise. If you already drink alcohol, keep it moderate.”
Dr. Walter Willett
Professor of Nutrition, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
In my next blog I will expand on this quote by discussing red wine versus other alcoholic beverages, as well as the importance of folic acid for female drinkers. Additionally, as a special treat I will include the recipe of one of my favorite winter cocktails!
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