It is an intriguing question to dwell upon that whether a few drinks after work can adversely affect our cholesterol level.
It is important to note that the liver is the main site for the filtration of alcohol and synthesis of cholesterol. Yet, alcohol does have an impact on our heart and cholesterol profile of the body, depending on how often and how much one drinks.
Alcohol And Health Issues – What Are The Effects of Alcohol On Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a wax-like substance that is produced both within our body and derived from food.
Among the three types of cholesterol, the Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is the harmful one that can cause plaque built up on the inner walls of the artery.
These plaque deposits result in hardening of the artery walls and restricted blood flow, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.
How much cholesterol is healthy for us:
The National Institute of Health (NIH), suggests that the ideal cholesterol level for an individual should be below 200mg/dl.
A level above 240 mg/dl is considered a high cholesterol level and for the LDL, the ideal level should be below 100mg/dl.
The High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) should be above the 60mg/dl level. The total cholesterol level of the body measured in term of triglycerides should be on the lower side along with the level of the LDL as high levels of LDL and triglyceride in the blood increases the chances of heart disorders.
We do not need any additional cholesterol from our food sources as the amount of cholesterol we need is already manufactured by the liver. Any added cholesterol from food sources can elevate the body’s cholesterol level to a risky threshold.
The good news is that alcohol in itself does not have any cholesterol content, however, mixing it with something else of the frequency and quantity of drinking affects the heart health.
What is the case with beer?
Although there is no direct cholesterol content in beer, it contains carbohydrates and alcohol that can shoot up one’s triglyceride levels.
Beer is also known to have certain plant sterols that can combine with the cholesterol molecules in the blood and help in pushing it out of the body. However, this cannot be considered proof that beer is good for our health.
As seen in certain research, the level of plant sterol is so low in a common cold whole-grain beer that it cannot have any noticeable good effect on our body’s cholesterol level.
How does liquor impact cholesterol?
Liquors such as whiskey, vodka, gin, or any other hard liquor are considered cholesterol-free.
However, some latest trends in the market, like candy-flavored whiskey or apple-flavored vodka can have added sugar content in them owing to these artificial concoctions.
These added sugar can increase the cholesterol level in the blood.
A similar condition is observed for cocktails, certain ingredients like juices or extracts, that are mixed with these hard liquors can raise the sugar and cholesterol level of the blood.
What role does wine play?
Wine has the most positive reputation in terms of adult heart health.
Red wine has a plant sterol known as resveratrol, which is believed to be good for our heart health.
Research shows that resveratrol can reduce inflammation and chances of clotting and promote an increased level of good cholesterol in the blood for the short term. Hence red wine is considered a good drink for adults in popular belief.
However, these beneficial effects of the plant sterol are not long-standing and it requires further study to assess whether red wine is actually good for a healthy heart.
The frequency and volume of alcohol consumption matter.
Al alcoholic drinks, including beer, liquor, or wine, have a varied effect on our heart health, but how much it impacts the heart, in the long run, depends on how frequently and how much a person drinks.
Experts believe that how much our cholesterol level is being affected depends more on the quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption than on the type of alcohol
According to NIH, one drink per day for women and two drinks a day for men does not have any negative effect on our health. Rather it is known to have some beneficial impact on the heart.
This is often referred to as moderate drinking and is considered safe by most health experts. However, if this surpasses the threshold, then there are possibilities of high cholesterol and associated health complications to emerge in a person.
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.