Tuesday, September 7

Food Spotlight: Alcohol

Michael and I being "healthy"

Well, it’s finally happened. The news I’ve been waiting for is here.

Moderate daily alcohol consumption is considered healthy. Say it with me people, WOO HOO!

A Dutch study followed 1,400 men for 40 years and found that the ones that drank a half-glass of wine daily outlived their abstaining counterparts by almost four-and-a-half years. Those poor schmoes who didn’t drink thought they were doing the right thing and low and behold their wine-loving friends ended up toasting them at their funeral. It just doesn’t seem fair, does it?

I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, it’s a small study, and they’re Dutch so maybe that makes a difference, and what about women?

I had all those questions too and it turns out, there’s volumes of research on alcohol consumption and it’s impact on an individual’s health.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) echoes the Dutch study, reporting that moderate drinkers have the greatest longevity. The NIAAA also found that moderate drinking is beneficial to heart health, resulting in a sharp decrease in heart disease risk (40%-60%).

Furthermore, an extensive review of recent medical research by the NIAAA found that, with few exceptions, studies from at least 20 countries around the world demonstrate a 20- to 40-percent lower coronary heart disease (CHD) incidence among drinkers compared to nondrinkers. Moderate drinkers exhibit lower rates of CHD-related mortality than either heavy drinkers or abstainers.

And the benefits cross gender lines. Both men and women have decreased risk of coronary heart disease with moderate alcohol consumption.

What I find really fascinating is this chart:

People who don’t drink at all have almost the same risk of mortality as heavy drinkers. The lowest risk category are the “one drink a day” folks.

How is this possible?

Scientists point to the numerous benefits of alcohol, including:

   It increases good cholesterol in your blood and decreases bad cholesterol
   It decreases blood clotting
   It reduces coronary artery spasm in response to stress
   It increases coronary blood flow  
   It reduces blood pressure 
   It reduces blood insulin level 
   It increases estrogen levels
   It reduces harmful arterial plaque

The key, of course, is MODERATION! 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, moderate drinking is defined as one glass a day or less for women and two glasses a day or less for men. And you can’t save up and drink seven glasses in one night. Binge drinking is harmful and doesn’t provide the same benefits as a consistent daily pattern. Plus, it makes you feel like crap in the morning. And it makes me want to go to Five Guys for a burger and fries, which isn’t really on my healthy eating plan.

Also, you should fill your glass with red wine or dark beer. Red wine has an antioxidant known as resveratrol and dark beer is rich in flavonoids. These are known to fight the effects of damaging free radicals. (I think that means if you drink red wine or dark beer you’re also helping to fight Al-Qaeda. You know I'm kidding, right?)

There are, of course, categories of people that shouldn't drink at all---recovering alcoholics, pregnant women, persons under 21, and anyone advised against drinking by their physician. And the American Heart Association recommends that you shouldn't start drinking (if you don't already) just for health purposes. 

For the rest of us, however, the ones that are trying to justify their wine consumption, this is fantastic news.

So let’s get healthy people. Meet me at the bar and we’ll toss back a glass of red goodness or a dark, frothy lager. But just one, or two, if you're a boy.

Now if I can just get the scientific community to sanction the consumption of large amounts of cookie dough my life would be fabulous.



  1. I noticed it doesn't say how big "1 drink" a day is. So, I'm getting me a huge wine glass.

  2. I'm reading this with my 2nd glass of red wine for the night. Am I tall/big enough to warrant the male portion size?

  3. Since we live close (walking distance, of course) can we be "1/2 glass of wine' drinking buddies? Used to do that years ago when the kids were little and I needed some 'adult' conversation. Now the kids are big and I need an adult drinking buddy! LOL--REALLY

  4. To Michael: Actually a glass of wine is defined as 5 ounces. I guess I should have mentioned that. Nice try though.

    To Shelley: You are definitely tall enough to warrant the second glass. I'll take the 5th on whether you're "big" enough.

    To Anonymous: I'm always up for company, especially if they like wine. Give me a call!

  5. Very nicely written and sourced! ;) Zanna