imageAmerican Heart Association recommendation: Have no more than one alcoholic drink per day if you are a woman and no more than two if you are a man. Do not start drinking if you do not already drink alcohol. Consult your doctor on the benefits and risks of consuming alcohol in moderation.

Here's Why:

People who drink moderately have heart disease less often than nondrinkers. Alcohol appears to increase HDL, the good form of cholesterol. Some other ways that researchers believe alcohol may help protect the heart include:

  • The alcohol or some other substance in alcoholic drinks, possibly resveratrol, may prevent platelets in the blood from sticking together. This, in turn, will reduce clot formation and the risk for ]]>heart attack]]> or ]]>stroke]]>.
  • Flavonoids and other antioxidants in red wine may protect the heart and arteries.

However, there are many negative health effects associated with alcohol intake, as well. These include:

Here's How:

Moderation is essential with alcohol because many chronic health problems can develop, or be exacerbated, from alcohol abuse. "One drink" equals no more than 1/2 ounce of pure alcohol. For example:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 4 ounces of wine—It is important to note that a "glass" of wine usually means 8-12 ounces for most people. However the official size of a glass of wine is 4 ounces or 1/2 of a cup. Measure it once, into your wine glass to see what that amount actually looks like.
  • 1-½ ounces of 80-proof spirits
  • 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits

If you choose not to drink, you are not missing out. You can get antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, and the flavonoids in red wine are also in red grapes and grape juice. Regular exercise increases HDL levels, as does alcohol consumption. And, if blood clotting is a concern for you, talk to your doctor about taking aspirin on a regular basis.