Is Alcohol Good for Me?
Medical studies have shown a link between moderate alcohol consumption and a reduced risk of illnesses like heart disease. For one thing, moderate use of alcohol tends to raise HDL cholesterol, the "good" kind. But before you add alcohol to your list of healthy foods, it's important to understand more.
First, it's important to understand what "moderate" drinking means. For men, it means no more than two drinks a day; for women, it's a limit of one drink a day. One drink is defined as 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1 1/2 ounces of liquor.
When it comes to alcohol, more is not better. People who drink more than the amounts above lose the health benefits of drinking and are actually at increased risk of high blood pressure and other heart problems. Excessive drinking can lead to liver disease, gastrointestinal disease, certain cancers, disturbances of sleep and of mood, obesity, and a host of other health problems. Experts say those who cannot drink moderately are better off not drinking at all. If you are unsure whether or not you have a problem with alcohol, it's a good idea to consult with your physician.
And remember, alcohol packs a lot of empty calories. A 5-ounce glass of wine contains around 130 calories, a 12-ounce serving of beer contains roughly 150 calories, and 1 1/2 ounces of liquor also contains around 150 calories (and that's before you add any mixers). Calories from alcohol that are not burned by the body seem more likely to be stored around the abdomen, and abdominal fat is the most dangerous kind for your health.
Finally, since alcohol lowers inhibition and impairs judgment, drinking too much can prevent you from sticking to your goals to eat well.
In short, if you're going to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. And don't forget to factor in the calories!