Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Getting to the Heart of a Healthy Diet: Alcohol

There is no doubt that drinking large amounts of alcohol is bad for your health. However, there is some evidence that some alcohol consumption may have benefits. Given that, the American Heart Association recommends that adults who drink do so in moderation.

Here are some considerations if you plan on continuing to drink alcohol:

Here's Why:  ^

Researchers believe some alcohol may help protect the heart. People who drink moderately have heart disease less often than nondrinkers. Alcohol appears to increase HDL, the good form of cholesterol. Some other benefits may include:

However, there are many negative health effects associated with alcohol intake, as well. This is especially true with heavy alcohol consumption. These include:

Here's How:  ^

Moderation is essential with alcohol because many chronic health problems can develop or worsen due to alcohol abuse. 1 drink equals no more than 1/2 ounce of pure alcohol. For example:

However, if you choose not to drink, you are not missing out. In fact, you should consider alternatives before picking up the bottle. You can get antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, and the flavonoids in red wine are also in red grapes and grape juice. Regular exercise also increases HDL levels. If blood clotting is a concern for you, talk to your doctor about taking aspirin on a regular basis.


American Heart Association

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence


Dietitians of Canada

Health Canada


Alcoholic beverages and cardiovascular disease. American Heart Association website. Available at: Updated January 12, 2015. Accessed February 24, 2016.

Alcohol use disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated October 23, 2015. Accessed February 24, 2016.

Coronary artery disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated December 4, 2015. Accessed February 24, 2016.

Dietary interventions for cardiovascular disease prevention. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated December 21, 2015. Accessed February 24, 2016.

Last reviewed February 2016 by Michael Woods, MD  Last Updated: 5/6/2014