Think a little alcohol is good for your heart? Think again!
You may have heard or read that a modest amount of alcohol -such as a glass or two of red wine daily- can help lower your risk of heart disease or improve your blood pressure. But alcohol has also been linked to some diseases that can affect your health in a negative way. Alcohol has been linked to cancers of the mouth and throat, voice box, esophagus, liver, colon and rectum, as well as brain changes.
Recently, scientists have found that drinking any amount of alcohol was associated with an increased risk of heart issues, such as high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. Even a low intake of alcohol can increase your risk. The more alcohol you drink, the higher the risk. Red grapes that make red wine contains a substance called reverstrol. This substance was once thought to help with heart health. But one study found that you would have to drink about 500 liters or over 2000 cups of wine a day to get any benefit.
So it’s important to think about your health, age, sex, medications and personal history to decide whether to drink and how much to drink. Alcohol affects everyone differently. Dietary Guidelines recommend that men limit alcohol to two drinks and day and women to one drink a day. Talk to your doctor about what amount of alcohol, or if any amount of alcohol, is recommended for you – as always, water is still the best choice for hydration!
Joanne M. Gallivan, M.S., R.D.N. is a registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She served as the Director of the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) in the Office of Communication and Public Liaison for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1997-2016. Previously, Ms. Gallivan has served as project manager for NIDDK’s Weight-Control Information Network (WIN), a national source of information on weight control, obesity, and weight-related nutritional disorders for health professionals and the public; as Contract Manager for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s National Cholesterol Education Program and Obesity Education Initiative, and as Director of the Prince George’s County Health Department Nutrition Division located in Maryland.
Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic is a free clinic in Charleston, SC, that provides free medical care to uninsured adults. The Free Clinic serves adults with no health insurance living at or below 299 % of the Federal poverty level who live or work on Johns, James, & Wadmalaw Island or Folly Beach, or serve the Hospitality Industry of Downtown Charleston. You can sign up for our monthly e-news updates, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.