Sip Your Way to a Stronger Heart: The Beverage That Lowers Risk of Heart Trouble

Your chances of heart failure increase as you age, but there’s a drink that can help lower your risk. When your heart begins to fail, its ability to pump blood to the body’s organs starts to slip. Many times, heart failure is linked to heart muscle damage, and your slow slide into heart failure may start after a heart attack.

It’s estimated that at least 23 million people around the world are now in a state of heart failure. Heart failure can be accelerated when the heart is stressed because of high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease), arrythmias (heart beat irregularities), and heart infections. Plus, if you receive radiation to treat cancer, the radiation can also damage the heart and make it fail.

But there’s good news! A 24-year study at Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston shows that moderate drinking – seven or less alcoholic drinks per week – can reduce your risk of heart failure.

Let’s delve deeper into this matter and see how moderate alcohol consumption can help keep your heart in good shape.

The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study

The research analyzed the heart health and drinking habits of 14,629 people aged 45-64 years who took part in a study called the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. The data showed that moderate drinking reduced the risk of heart failure in men by 20 percent and by 16 percent in women.

Dr. Scott Solomon, a researcher who teaches medicine at the Harvard Medical School, says, “These findings suggest that drinking alcohol in moderation does not contribute to an increased risk of heart failure and may even be protective. No level of alcohol intake (in this study) was associated with a higher risk of heart failure. However, heavy alcohol use is certainly a risk factor for deaths from (other causes).”

The Benefits of Moderate Alcohol Consumption

Beyond potentially helping reduce the risk of heart failure, moderate alcohol consumption has other potential health benefits. Keep in mind, though, that moderation is key, and excessive alcohol use can negate these benefits and lead to other health problems, including liver disease, addiction, and weight gain.

  • Heart Health: Moderate alcohol consumption can reduce your risk of heart attack, coronary artery disease, and ischemic stroke by increasing HDL levels (good cholesterol) in the blood. The American Heart Association also suggests that the antioxidants found in certain alcohols, like red wine, may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

  • Metabolic Health: In moderation, alcohol can help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A study published in the Lancet found that moderate alcohol drinkers had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to non-drinkers and heavy drinkers.

  • Cognitive Health: Some research suggests that modest alcohol consumption may have a positive effect on cognitive function and might even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. According to a study from the University of Rochester Medical Center, moderate drinkers are 23 percent less likely to develop dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other cognitive impairments.

Things to Keep in Mind

While the research on moderate alcohol consumption and heart health is compelling, it’s important to remember that the results don’t guarantee protection against heart failure for everyone who drinks moderately. Tolerance for alcohol can vary based on factors like genetics, size, sex, overall health, and age. It’s essential to know your limits and consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet in the pursuit of improved heart health.

In conclusion, moderate alcohol consumption might help to protect against heart failure, but it is by no means a cure-all. The best way to maintain a healthy heart is by engaging in regular exercise, eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Remember that alcohol should always be consumed responsibly, and excessive alcohol use does not lead to any benefits – only harm. And if you don’t drink, this research is not a reason to start. There are many other ways to lower your risk of heart failure.