Alcohol is one of those strange things that are both good and bad for you! In excess, alcohol can lead to weight gain, liver damage, and a host of other severe problems. But in moderation, many people believe it can actually be heart-smart, beneficial to your cardiovascular system, even encourage healthier internal functions. So is it? Is alcohol actually good for your health or not? Below is everything you need to know to answer the question for yourself.
Less is Best
Despite scientists not being 100% clear on exactly how good or bad alcohol is, one thing is very clear: too much will always be harmful to your health. Excess alcohol intake can cause all kinds of health problems—from heart disease to obesity to slow metabolic function to liver damage, and so many more. If you want to be healthy, you’re better off with fewer drinks per week!
Is Alcohol Heart Smart?
The answer, scientists say, is maybe. Alcohol can help certain aspects of your heart while harming others. For example, one study found that people in parts of Texas that consumed alcohol had lower risks of congestive heart failure and heart attacks, but higher risks of atrial fibrillation. According to one doctor, alcohol can clear out the “plumbing”, your arteries, reducing the buildup of plaque and helping to increase blood flow. At the same time, however, it will mess with the “electrical system”, affecting the atrial contraction rhythms that keep your heart working well. It’s not “all good”—there are some risks to your heart, even in small quantities.
Wine is SOMEWHAT Healthy
Studies have proven that a glass of dark red wine can provide your body with a hefty dose of antioxidants, including resveratrol and polyphenols. These antioxidants are anti-inflammatory and can reduce your risk of health problems in general. However, other than these minor benefits, there are no other established benefits to drinking wine. Anyone who tells you beyond a shadow of a doubt that a glass or two of wine per day definitely improves your health has no scientific basis to build that claim on.
Two Drinks May Be Too Many
There is no science to prove exactly how many alcoholic beverages per day or week is bad for your health, but it’s definitely clear that more than two is considered excessive. Just because you keep your alcohol intake to one drink every day or so, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the healthy choice. Drinking daily can actually cancel out any cardiovascular benefits. You’re better off limiting yourself to the occasional drink rather than being okay with a drink or two every day.
Not Drinking is Better than Moderate Drinking
If you’re talking health benefits, you’re definitely going to be at your healthiest if you don’t drink. This isn’t a teetotaler stance—it’s the scientific stance. While alcohol in moderation won’t necessarily do your body significant harm, it’s recognized that alcohol poisoning (when you feel tipsy or drunk) puts a strain on your internal organs. If you wanted to choose the MOST healthy option, you’d definitely cut alcohol out of your life completely.
Drinking Isn’t Evil
While drinking in excess is the cause of all sorts of problems—health problems, mental and emotional, and so much more—the truth is that alcohol isn’t evil. Think of it like a dessert: you know too much sugar is bad for you, but having a dessert every once in a while isn’t going to harm you. As long as you approach drinking with that same mindset—a little bit every once in a while—you’ve got nothing to worry about!