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Alcohol and Heart Disease

There has been much discussion in the media about the benefits of alcohol in preventing heart disease. Studies have shown that beer and wine, especially red wine, can lower the risk of heart disease. This is probably due to compounds in the alcoholic beverages called phytochemicals (plant chemicals), which prevent cholesterol from sticking to artery walls and forming plaque. Some studies also show alcohol can increase HDL, the good cholesterol. 

Unfortunately alcohol is a calorically dense food, containing 7 calories per gram, so if you are concerned about your weight, you should limit or eliminate alcohol from your diet. Excessively drinking alcohol increases the risk of certain cancers, liver disease and alcoholism. Alcohol can also increase blood pressure and triglycerides.

The American Heart Association's (AHA) guidelines and recommendations for women are no more than one drink per day. A drink is defined as:

  • One four to five ounce glass of wine
  • One 12 ounce can/bottle of beer

One shot (1.5 ounces) of 80-proof liquor