The Relation Between Alcohol and Cholesterol

Many understand that alcohol will affect the body in a negative way. If you drink too much, your reflexes and judgment will be affected and over time you can suffer weight gain and chronic liver disease. You may have heard about alcohol and cholesterol. How are the two related?

How Does Alcohol Affect Cholesterol Levels?

If you only drink a moderate amount of alcohol, studies show that you will see your good cholesterol or HDL have a positive change. This good cholesterol is believed to slow down your bad plaque buildup. It is the arterial plaque that causes your arteries to harden and this puts you at risk for heart diseases.

Red wine, in particular is believed to offer the most benefit in regards to cardiovascular disease. This is because of the wine containing a large amount of plant chemicals, in specific resveratrol. These are powerful antioxidants that have been shown to protect artery walls.

However, it’s important to remember that heavy drinking can be linked to high levels of bad cholesterol or LDL. When you have high LDL levels, your risk for heart disease increases.

Should You Drink Alcohol Then?

If you’re thinking about alcohol and cholesterol, you need to remember to only drink in moderation. For an average adult, this would mean one drink a day for women. For men under 65 it means two drinks, over 65 it means one. A drink is considered 1.5 ounces of liquor, 12 ounces of beer, or 5 ounces of wine.

However, for those who never drink, the benefits of seeing higher levels of HDL cholesterol are not strong enough for this to be a recommendation. You can never rely on alcohol to improve your cholesterol. If you want to drink alcohol, you should speak with your doctor first.

Overconsumption is always forbidden. If you overconsume alcohol, you may increase your risk for heart disease, increased blood pressure, obesity, stroke, and increased triglycerides in your blood. There are other downsides that come along with drinking alcohol such as cirrhosis of the liver, certain cancers, and risk of more accidents.

Natural Ways to Improve Cholesterol Levels

The key of the relation between alcohol and cholesterol is moderation. Then are there any other ways to improve the cholesterol levels?

1. Choose Foods That Are Heart Healthy

  • Full fat dairy and red meat are the biggest culprits when it comes to saturated fats. Saturated fats raise your LDL or bad cholesterol. As a rule, you should get no greater than 7 percent of your calories from these fats. Choose leaner meat and try reducing your consumption.
  • Get rid of all the trans fats in your diet. These will increase your bad cholesterol, and also lower your good cholesterol. Trans fat is in fried foods, and commercial items such as crackers, cookies, and other snacks. US labels can be tricky, if there is less than 0.5 grams in a serving, they can label 0-trans fat. Even small amounts of this fat can cause issues. Read labels and steer clear from partially hydrogenated oils.
  • Add more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids don’t have an effect on your bad cholesterol. They do offer benefits to your heart by increasing your good cholesterol, lowering triglycerides and lowering blood pressure. These essential acids can be found in fish such as herring, mackerel and salmon. You can also get it from almonds, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
  • Another healthy addition is soluble fiber. You can get this from oats, fruit, beans, veggies and lentils. It will help lower your LDL cholesterol.

2. Get More Exercise

You can improve your cholesterol levels by exercising more. Even moderate exercise can raise your good cholesterol. After checking with your doctor, you should shoot for 30 minutes or more of exercise every day.

Just remember any physical activity is helpful. Take steps to insure you keep up with the changes you are after. Think about:

  • Adding a walk to your daily lunch break
  • Taking swimming lessons
  • Getting out to play a sport
  • Taking a bike to walk
  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator

3. Stop Smoking

Besides alcohol and cholesterol, you should also consider smoking and cholesterol. Ask your doctor for help because quitting can improve your HDL cholesterol levels. The benefits just start there. In just twenty minutes after you’ve quit, your blood pressure and heart rate will be lower. After a year smoke-free, your heart disease risk is half of a smoker’s risk. After fifteen years smoke-free, your risk for heart disease is similar to someone who never smoked.

4. Drop the Extra Pounds

If you lose five or ten percent of your weight you will see improvement in your cholesterol numbers. Take stock of your daily eating habits and routine. Look where you struggle and brainstorm solutions to the problem areas.

Even small changes can help. If you notice you eat when you are frustrated or bored, try taking a walk instead. If you eat fast food every day, prepare by packing a goodie bag from home. Keep looking for new ways to add more activity to your day. Park further away from the door when shopping or going to work. Add an evening or morning walk.

 
 
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