Health experts are clear: keeping a healthy heart should be a top priority. As you get older, having a healthy heart should be your goal. The heart is important in so many ways that neglecting it through poor lifestyle and diet choices is a recipe for disaster.
Some factors that can go into building better heart health can’t be wisely argued against: tightening up your diet, maintaining reasonable body weight, reducing stress, avoiding smoking, and staying active with cardiovascular exercise, are all beneficial to your heart.
But what about drinking alcohol?
Alcohol and heart health is an interesting topic to consider since it doesn’t have strict black and white answers. Not all types of alcohol impact the body and the heart the same way. Too much alcohol use is a prominent health concern on the one hand, and some types of alcohol use in moderation have been shown to have heart benefits on the other.
Let’s dig in and learn more about how different types of alcohol affect heart health.”
The Magic of Drinking Alcohol in Moderation
When it comes to alcohol and heart health, the first concept that you should internalize is the importance of moderation. No matter what kind of alcohol you drink, if you consume too much, it is going to impact your health negatively.
Moderate alcohol consumption, on the other hand, helps the health rather than hurts it.
According to Sunnyside, a helpful app that can help track alcohol consumption, moderate drinking for a woman is one alcoholic drink or less a day, and for men, two alcoholic beverages or less a day.
When alcohol is consumed at a moderate rate, hundreds of studies have shown the following benefits:
- Cardiovascular Disease Risk Reduced. While the mechanism isn’t clear, the research is. Both frequency and severity of heart events and disease are reduced in those who moderately consume alcohol. Of course, a few people may have genetic factors that prevent these benefits, but that is the exception, not the rule.
- Lower Blood Pressure. High blood pressure hurts the heart in many significant ways. Moderate alcohol drinking reduces blood pressure dramatically.
- Increased HDL Cholesterol. Not all cholesterol is bad for the heart. HDL (high density lipoproteins) cholesterol is associated with heightened heart health. Drinking alcohol in moderation can cause HDL levels to rise in a way that is good for your heart.
Your Choice of Alcohol Affects the Heart Differently
It isn’t just the amount of alcohol and how frequently you drink that can affect the heart negatively and positively. The type of alcohol consumed is also important. If you choose to drink, it is a good idea to be mindful of the kind of alcohol you consume if optimal health is essential to you. Liquor, red wine, and other alcohol choices all have different effects on your heart.
The Dangers of Hard Liquor
Doctors who see the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption don’t hesitate to advise avoiding hard liquors; this type of alcohol is bad for the heart for many reasons. First, they have more sugar and calories, which work against staying healthy. The amount of alcohol contained in hard liquors also makes moderate consumption more challenging. By going overboard, the heart is stressed, along with the other glaring negatives associated with over-drinking.
Red Wine: Is It Healthier for the Heart?
Pop culture has picked up on the health benefits of drinking a glass of red wine a night. The science agrees. The benefits also stretch over into heart health. Many advantages can be traced to red wine being high in antioxidants like polyphenols and flavonoids– from the fruit and vegetables used to make red wine. Polyphenols and flavonoids have been shown to boost the immune system, increase healthy blood flow, and help strengthen the heart. And let’s not forget that a glass or two of red wine can be an effective way to help reduce stress. High stress is closely associated with heart problems. On balance, red wine in moderation can be a good fit in combination with intelligent, informed lifestyle choices to help build better heart health.
Thoughts On Other Kinds of Alcohol
Other alcohols, like beer or cocktails as examples, will have to be examined individually for their qualities good or bad since they can vary greatly. A smart mindful practice is to consider the alcohol content and calories of the drink or drinks you consume while practicing moderation. The extra attention can have real health benefits or reduce the chances of some health problems when looked at over the long term.
Alcohol, Aging, and The Heart
One of the more insidious health threats of over-drinking is alcohol’s ability to accelerate aging, especially in women. Drinking alcohol in more than moderation has a toll on all of the body’s organs, including the heart. Alcohol also heightens dehydration, which is deeply associated with faster aging and heart damage.
There are two answers to the problems associated with alcohol and aging. The first thing we continue to stress in this article is practicing moderation or abstaining from drinking. The second recommendation is to stay hydrated and to be sure to increase the amount of water and other clear liquids you drink when you are enjoying a moderate amount of alcohol.
On balance alcohol impacts aging negatively, with some small exceptions for red wine, but this can be reduced with smart lifestyle choices like drinking more water.
Heart Problems and Alcohol
Have you ever had bad heart medical issues? Doctors state without hesitation if you have, your days of drinking alcohol in any amount need to end. Serious heart problems are not something to take lightly, and living as long and healthily as possible is more important than an occasional beer or glass of wine.
Yes, different kinds of alcohol can affect heart health in good, bad, and ugly ways. Hard liquors have a lot of sugar and calories that aren’t great for your heart, and although wine has its benefits overdoing it is still an issue. And that’s before we consider the effects of alcohol on our aging, and other organs.
The excellent news is that once you understand some of the details surrounding heart health and alcohol, you can adjust your lifestyle accordingly. Doing so will also help with lower your risk of heart diseases, increase your good cholesterol levels, and lower your blood pressure. This article is a great start to improve your understanding of how alcohol affects your heart health, and we hope you have found it valuable.