There are many negative health effects of excessive alcohol intake, including high triglycerides, high blood pressure, certain types of cancer (such as breast cancer) and excessive caloric intake contributing to obesity. So, if you choose not to drink alcohol currently, the American Heart Association does not recommend that you begin drinking any type of alcohol for heart health.
But, if you choose to drink alcohol, it is best to drink in moderation. That means an average of one drink per day for women, and one to two drinks per day for men. (A drink is defined as 4 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1½ ounces of spirits.)
When you drink in moderation, research has suggested that you may have a lower risk of dying from heart disease. But more research is needed in this area. Some studies have suggested that red wine may be better than other types of alcohol, partly due to flavonoids (catechins and anthocyanins) and another phytochemical called resveratrol found in the skin and seeds of red grapes. Resveratrol may act as an antioxidant to lower "bad" LDL cholesterol and may help platelets keep from sticking together, which helps prevent blood clots. However, research has not proven that red wine is better for heart health than other types of alcohol consumed in moderation.
Rest assured, if you choose not to drink alcohol, there are many conventional ways you can obtain the same beneficial effects that alcohol produces, including the following:
- Exercise to raise "good" HDL cholesterol, and
- Eating a healthy diet rich in a variety of plant foods to obtain heart-healthy antioxidants. Grapes, grape juice and peanuts also contain resveratrol.