Alcoholic drinks are part of many social occasions, from family gatherings to sporting events and nightcaps. The problems associated with alcohol abuse are well-known, but what about the impact of moderate drinking? Understanding the health benefits of drinking alcohol is also important.
What is Moderate Alcohol Drinking?
The terms “moderate” and “a drink” have fueled some of the ongoing debates about alcohol’s impact on health. Some studies would refer to “moderate drinking” as less than 1 drink per day. For others, it means 3-4 drinks per day. Exactly what constitutes “a drink” is also fairly fluid as there are several types of alcoholic drinks. There is no universally accepted standard drink definition.
In the US, though, 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 and ½ ounces of spirits such as whiskey or gin is equivalent to 1 drink. Each delivers approximately 12 to 14 grams of alcohol on average. However, some wines and micro brews now are being produced with higher alcohol content.
Moderate drinking then is something of a balancing act. The benefits of drinking alcohol should clearly outweigh the risks.
The latest consensus suggests that no more than 1 drink and 2 drinks for women and men a day respectively, is considered safe and healthy. This is the definition being used in the US.
What Are the Possible Health Benefits of Drinking Alcohol?
One of the most popular benefits associated with moderate drinking is improved heart health.
More than 100 prospective studies show that light to moderate drinking can help reduce the risks of heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and death from all cardiovascular causes. The effect is fairly consistent, corresponding to a 32.5% reduction in risk, on average.
This was observed in both men and women, regardless of whether that person is healthy or at high risk for having a heart attack or stroke.
Moderate amounts of alcohol will increase the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is considered as “good” cholesterol. Higher levels of HDL will give you better protection against heart disease.
The benefits also extend to patients with high type 2 diabetes. Moderate drinking promotes better sensitivity to insulin and improves factors affecting blood clotting. This will prevent the formation of blood clots that can block arteries, causing heart attack and stroke.
The health benefits of moderate drinking are not limited to the heart. Drinking moderately has also been linked to a reduced risk of dementia in older individuals and reduced weight gain or even weight loss, especially with wine.
The social and psychological benefits of alcohol should not be ignored. Drinking before a meal can improve digestion and offer a soothing respite at the end of a tiring day. Occasionally drinking with friends is a social tonic. These effects will also contribute to health and well-being.
What Are the Possible Risks of Excessive Alcohol Drinking?
While moderate alcohol use is beneficial, heavy drinking and alcohol abuse can be dangerous. Heavy drinking is defined as having more than 3 drinks on any day or more than 7 drinks a week for women and for men above 65 years old. Younger men may be allowed 4 drinks on any day and 14 drinks a week. Anything in excess is considered heavy drinking.
Too much alcohol can increase your risk of serious health problems, including:
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Heart muscle damage causing heart failure
- Brain damage
- Birth problems
- Certain cancers affect the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, and liver
- Alcohol withdrawal syndrome
- Accidental serious injury or death
Which Type of Alcoholic Drink is Best?
What you drink is not as important as how much you consume. However, some alcoholic drinks are better than others.
Red wine appears to be particularly beneficial because it contains high amounts of antioxidants. That said, drinking more red wine does not provide greater benefits. Again, drink in moderation.
We, at Village Warehouse Wine and Spirits, offer a wide collection of red wines and other alcoholic drinks. Stop by our shop anytime!