Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"What are heart-related benefits of drinking alcohol in moderation?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat are heart-related benefits of drinking alcohol in moderation?


My mother believes drinking alcohol is bad for the body. I disagree, I once read that alcohol can benefits the heart. Am I right?


I suggest you discuss this matter with your primary care physician. As with most things in life, drinking alcohol in moderation may not be unhealthy. The most important point I can make here is to define what moderation really is. In general, drinking alcohol in moderation means drinking no more than 1 alcoholic beverage per day (for women) and no more than 2 per day (for men). If you drink more than that, then the alcohol is probably causing more harm than good. I should also note here that no alcoholic beverage is better or worse for you, except that some of them contain more calories than others. The ones with more calories are obviously worse. The benefits of alcohol consumed in moderation have to do with blood pressure (moderate consumption of alcohol lowers blood pressure) and its effects on HDL, the good cholesterol. Both of these effects are very small. In other words, I never recommend anyone drink alcohol for its benefit, but in small amounts it's likely to have a small positive effect. Again, I suggest you discuss this matter with your primary care physician. He or she will first want to discuss how much you are drinking to make sure that it is in moderation. If you haven't had your blood pressure or cholesterol checked in a while, it might be a good idea to have that done as well.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.