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Moderate Alcohol Consumption May Have Heart Health Benefits

While messages conveying the dangers of alcohol are prevalent in today’s society, the potential benefits of drinking alcohol are not as widely discussed. Now you can have your beer and drink it too—in moderation, of course!

Two new studies have confirmed that moderate alcohol consumption can favorably alter a person’s likelihood of developing heart disease. The studies, published in the British Medical Journal, suggest that having one or two drinks each day may actually lower the risk of heart disease in both men and women.

Researchers at the University of Calgary reviewed 84 studies concerning alcohol consumption and heart disease.  After doing so, they concluded that people who had one alcoholic drink or less each day were 14-25 percent less likely to develop heart disease when compared with people who didn’t drink. In a separate analysis of 63 previous studies, researchers found that moderate alcohol use can protect against heart disease by increasing good cholesterol (HDL) levels.

The studies showed positive outcomes regardless of whether the person was consuming wine, beer or spirits. Results like these lead scientists to believe that alcohol should be included when promoting a heart-healthy lifestyle. The most important factor in drinking patterns was not what people were drinking, but how much.

Researchers warn that overdoing it can have severe negative consequences instead of providing positive benefits. A previous study showed that men who frequently binge drink are almost twice as likely as moderate drinkers to have a heart attack or death by heart disease.

So how much is too much? For women, one drink containing 15 grams of alcohol was enough to provide noticeable positive results, while men needed two drinks to yield equal outcomes. One drink is considered to be 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or one ounce of spirits.

These results, while promising for those at risk for heart disease, are not meant to replace traditional health measures. A combination of a healthy diet, daily exercise and visits to your heart doctor offers the best preventative care for many heart conditions.

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