Cholesterol levels are often used to monitor a person’s heart health. Cholesterol is a substance produced naturally by our body. But certain food and beverages also add to our body’s cholesterol levels. There are two types of cholesterol. Good cholesterol (HDL- high-density lipoprotein) is useful for our body. But bad cholesterol (LDL- Low-density lipoprotein) can cause plaque build-up in arteries of the heart and be very harmful to our heart health.
Struggling To Keep Cholesterol Levels Under Control? It May Be Related To Your Alcohol Consumption!
The doctor recommended level of total cholesterol in the body should be below 200mg/dl. The level of LDL should be below 100mg/dl.
Relation Between Alcohol And Cholesterol
Since our body naturally produces cholesterol, consuming cholesterol-rich foods can cause our body’s cholesterol level to rise above the optimum limit. While most patients with high cholesterol are aware of the perils of cholesterol-rich foods like butter, cream, pizzas and fried foods; many patients are still unaware of the damaging effect of alcohol on cholesterol levels and heart health.
The liver is the organ of our body that produces cholesterol. Alcohol is also produced by this same organ. Alcohol does not contain cholesterol, but it can indirectly damage heart health by affecting the functioning of the liver. Studies show that too much alcohol consumption can raise the LDL levels (bad cholesterol) in the body.
Another way that alcohol negatively impacts heart health is by raising the triglyceride levels of the body. High levels of triglycerides in the body indicate high LDL cholesterol and it can also cause damage to the liver and pancreas.
When a person consumes alcohol in large quantities, their body begins to metabolise and process the alcohol to gain nutrients for the body. The fats and calories from food are then stored in the body as triglycerides. These triglycerides can cause fatty liver disease and impair liver function along with various other heart problems.
Does having cholesterol then mean completely giving up alcohol?
In recent years some studies claim to have found a positive correlation between alcohol consumption and high good cholesterol (HDL) levels. Scientists explain that moderate to low intake of alcohol can increase the body’s stores of good cholesterol.
A 4-ounce drink of red wine per day is said to improve heart health and raise HDL cholesterol levels. But these studies are still not very conclusive. Some critics claim that the positive effect of red wine is not the action of alcohol, but rather the action of other compounds present in red wine like resveratrol. No doctors as of yet recommend red wine to patients with heart conditions.
According to scientists, almost all types of alcoholic drinks like hard liquors, wines, and beers have a similar effect on the body. The only factor that is a concern for heart health is the amount of alcohol that is ingested. Every person metabolizes alcohol differently depending on their weight, age, and their liver size.
Nevertheless, doctors recommend that all persons refrain from overindulging in alcohol. High alcohol intake is responsible for other diseases too like liver damage, kidney failure, cancer, mental health problems and many more.
According to doctors, the lower the levels of alcohol consumed the better. The maximum permissible alcohol intake is moderate, or 1 to 2 drinks regularly. 1 standard drink is measured in the US system as 12 ounces of regular beer or 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
Another important thing to be kept in mind is that cholesterol medicines often contain statins which can react very adversely with alcohol consumption. So patients who take medications for high cholesterol levels must consult their doctor before indulging in any alcoholic consumption.
Enjoy life, in moderation
Having high cholesterol does not mean giving up on all your favourite foods and drinks. Cholesterol levels can be controlled very easily through proper medical treatment and a controlled lifestyle.
Persons with high cholesterol can sometimes take a drink, or take a bite of something fried. All they have to do is make sure to not overdo it. Moderation is the key to living a long, healthy and happy life even with higher cholesterol levels.
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Amanda Wingfield is a certified Diabetes Management Specialist who also holds an MD in Endocrinology, with certifications from ABIM and AACE. She has a decade of experience serving thousands of patients through her independent practice and has been working in the capacity of an expert diabetes consultant for the past 4 years. Ms. Wingfield is revered by her regular readers for her in-depth research and evidence-based analysis of diabetes medications, supplements, and treatments, and her highly critical style of writing.