Alcohol and Cholesterol Numbers – How Does Booze Affect Them?
Most people do not realize that alcohol and cholesterol are related and further do not understand how minimal and moderate alcohol use can actually be a benefit for those with higher than desirable levels of cholesterol. While alcohol has gotten a bad rap for some negative effects that it can have on the body, there are also some benefits to certain types of alcohol thanks to beneficial compounds it contains.
There are many things found in nature that lower cholesterol naturally. Take for instance the allicin in garlic, which Discovery Health points out may be able to reduce cholesterol numbers when consumed raw. Additionally, natural remedies like ginger can provide an even bigger heart healthy impact as their chemical compositions include benefits like lowering LDL levels as well as thwarting atherosclerosis, according to Dr. Mercola. While we can not pluck alcohol off a tree or pull it out of the ground, the relationship between alcohol and cholesterol is similar to compounds found in naturally occurring foods and herbs, and it is thought to lower cholesterol naturally thanks to compounds like antioxidants which some types of alcohol, like red wine, are abundant in.
The alcohol and cholesterol relationship is not as clearly defined as many things found in nature, however. Alcohol has not been associated with lowering the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood. It has however, according to WebMD, been attributed to a healthy rise in HDL (good cholesterol) levels. Ultimately, this is quite relevant for people with high LDL cholesterol levels, however, because extra HDL cholesterol circulating the blood traverses around seeking out buildups of bad cholesterol that has affixed itself to plaques and sends it off to be disposed of.
So what type of alcohol is linked to the most benefit? And, how much should be consumed? Well, red wine is thought to be the best choice and WebMD points out that one study found that the abundance of an antioxidant known as resveratrol which is found in red wine was also beneficial to the health of the walls of the arteries in the body. But, the good news about alcohol and cholesterol is not a green light to consume in excess, and the Mayo Clinic points out that consumption amounts of alcohol for the cholesterol levels in men and women varies as well, with women doing well with just one drink daily and men managing up to two, but not more.
In fact, over consumption of booze can have the complete opposite effect on cholesterol levels, and alcoholism itself is linked to both elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. How is this possible? Well, high triglycerides are very intimately linked to sugar intake, and alcohol contains a tremendous amount of sugar. Thus, over consumption can lead to high triglycerides and therefore a greater overall risk of coronary illness. This relationship between alcohol and cholesterol is further examined when weight gain comes into the picture. Alcohol is very high in calories and unfortunately, excessive calories can lead to bigger than desirable waist lines and thus an increased level of blood lipids. WebMD explains that just a five to ten percent reduction in weight can have a dramatic impact on cholesterol numbers. But, that impact is twofold, with the numbers tilting in the other direction when excessive weight comes into the picture. In these ways, as opposed to being a tool, alcohol can contribute to what causes high cholesterol in the first place.
The conclusion here and lesson to be taken are focused on moderation. When alcohol is used occasionally or as part of a conscious and healthy cholesterol diet, certain benefits can be obtained that can lower cholesterol over time and contribute to a reduced risk of heart related illnesses. But, on the other side of that alcohol and cholesterol relationship is excessive use, which yields just the opposite effect in addition to many other negative health problems like liver disease. Alcohol is a prime example of how a balanced and fresh diet is the best way to tackle cholesterol woes. Like shrimp, meat and eggs, the effect that ingestibles have on our lipid levels has more to do with making healthy choices and limiting intake rather than focusing on the negative impact of each and every food item. Balance and moderation combined with exercise and the removal of lifestyle factors like smoking will not only lead to lower cholesterol levels, but also greater overall health for many years.