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How much alcohol should I drink daily to help my heart?

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
Dozens of studies have suggested that moderate consumption of alcohol reduces the risk for heart disease. Moderate alcohol consumption is defined as no more than one drink a day for women and two for men. A drink is defined as 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or a 12-ounce beer.

Although a few studies have found that wine is more beneficial than beer or hard liquor, most have found that any type of alcohol in moderation may help. It is not entirely clear why moderate alcohol consumption helps the heart, but it may raise helpful high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, quell inflammation, and decrease the risk for blood clots. The key is moderation, however. Drinking more than two drinks of alcohol per day on a regular basis increases the risk of developing hypertension, while having more than three per day raises the risk for stroke, arrhythmia, and sudden death. Another factor to consider is that alcohol is addictive. So if you don't drink, don't start just to help your heart; eating healthier food and exercising are better lifestyle strategies.
The Mayo Clinic reports that having one or two drinks per day could lower your risk of heart disease, but researchers caution you should be careful not to drink too much.

Men can have two drinks a day, but women should have just one 12-ounce beer, or a five-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof alcohol, according to the Mayo Clinic.

To do your body an even bigger favor, stick with red wine. It helps your heart and raises the level of good cholesterol, while lowering the level of your bad cholesterol.

If you do not drink, now, however, you are not advised to start now. Alcohol has been linked to cancer and is full of empty calories.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.