The Health Benefits of Alcohol

Posted On: 04-07-2017
The Health Benefits of Alcohol
The possible dangers of excess alcohol consumption are well-known. While you should be careful with how much you drink, there are some positive health benefits associated with alcohol. This shouldn't be an excuse to start drinking. In some cases, it's best to avoid alcohol altogether if you have other underlying health issues. But if you do already occasionally have a drink, here's how it could be benefiting you.

Improving Heart Health

Resveratrol is an ingredient in red wine that may reduce your risk of developing coronary artery disease, the leading cause of heart-related deaths in the United States. These benefits extend to all alcohol-containing beverages. According to some studies, moderate consumption can minimize heart disease risk by 40 percent because alcohol:

  • Reduces bad cholesterol levels (LDL)
  • Boosts good cholesterol levels (HDL)
  • Contains disease-fighting antioxidants

Controlling Diabetes

Drinking isn't automatically a no-no for diabetics, as long as it doesn't mix with medications. If you are diabetic and able to occasionally indulge, alcohol may help with blood sugar levels. Chemicals in alcohol increase insulin sensitivity and help the body use glucose more efficiently. According to one study, moderate drinking may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 30 percent.

Boosting Brain Power

The increase in good cholesterol experienced from moderate alcohol consumption may improve circulation in the brain, which may boost cognitive functioning. Alcohol may also decrease the odds of developing dementia and similar conditions by gently stressing brain cells. While this may sound like a bad thing, it may be enough of a jolt to condition brain cells to handle age-related changes in the brain.

Fighting Fat

Yes, it's true that too much alcohol can lead to what is known as a "beer belly." But as long as moderation is kept in mind, it may be a way to keep your weight in check. Women who consistently drank two drinks or less per day were less likely to gain weight, according to one study on alcohol and weight. It may help because there's less of a tendency to fill up on carbs or other high-calorie snacks when you're slowly sipping on a drink. Just remember to:

  • Opt for bottles instead of cocktails
  • Go with light beer and avoid sugary mixed drinks
  • Watch portions and avoid binge consumption

Moderation is definitely the key when it comes to enjoying the possible health benefits of alcohol. The general recommendation is up to two drinks a day for men and one per day for women. And drinking alcohol, even in moderation, shouldn't be a substitute for being mindful of what you eat and how much exercise you get on a regular basis.

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