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Five health benefits to moderate drinking

Lowered risk of cardio-vascular disease, longer life, and protection against the common cold are all apparent benefits to be had from moderate drinking. 

Carl Anka
Tuesday 10 November 2015 19:41 GMT
(Getty Images)

Throughout the years, numerous studies have made claims as to how moderate alcohol consumption can improve one’s health.

But don’t saddle up on alcohol in fear of missing out. As Drinkaware states: "Alcohol can have protective benefits for the heart – but only if you drink within the daily unit guidelines and are over 45. Research suggests that small amounts of alcohol can have a protective effect on your heart. This benefit appears to be restricted to over 45-year-olds drinking well within the lower risk guidelines."

Nonetheless, here are five apparent health benefits of moderate (ie: no more than 2-3 units daily for women, 3-4 units in men) alcohol consumption.

Good for your heart*

As Drinkaware’s Chief Medical Adviser Professor Paul Wallace, writes on their website, “alcohol appears to increase the level of "good" cholesterol (HDL) in the blood. This reduces the amount of fatty deposit (atheroma) which narrows our arteries and makes them more likely to clog.”

Professor Wallace also notes of a second benefit moderate drinking could have for your heart in helping “prevent the formation of blood clots which can close off the arteries, causing a heart attack. It can stop platelets from clumping together to form clots and, a small amount of alcohol with a meal can reduce the sudden rise of a protein (fibrinogen) produced by the liver which increases the likelihood of harmful blood clots forming - thrombosis.”

But don’t go out and rush for a bottle of red wine if you do not usually drink. As Wallace states, “There are other ways to reduce the risk of heart disease, like stopping smoking, taking more exercise and eating a healthier diet, which don’t carry risk.”

It can make you live longer*

According to research published in the 2010 journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, individuals who drank in moderation were more likely to live than those who abstain. The study, conducted over 20-years with 1,824 people found that 69% of teetotalers died during the period compared to 41% of moderate drinkers.

Led by researcher Charles Holahan, the study reasoned that those who enjoyed the occasional drink were more likely to come from a more social background, as well as higher income and education levels. As the study concluded, “Even after taking account of traditional and non-traditional covariates, moderate alcohol consumption continued to show a beneficial effect in predicting mortality risk”.

It can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes*

As a 2005 Dutch study found, moderate drinkers are at 30% less risk than non-drinkers when it comes to developing type 2 diabetes.

Performing on 369,862 people over the course of 12 years, the study as published by Amsterdam's VU University Medical Center, found that “moderate alcohol consumption can play a part in a healthy lifestyle to help reduce the risk of developing diabetes type 2".

It can play a role in lowering the risk of a stroke in women*

According to findings made by a 2006 study by Colombia University, “Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a lower risk of total stroke.” Studying 3,176 individuals over an eight-year period, this American research project came to the conclusion that the possibility of developing a blood correlated stroke dropped by about 50% in moderate drinkers compared to their teetotal counterparts.

It may help reduce susceptibility to a cold*

The antioxidant properties of red wine may make you less susceptible to developing a cold. According to a 2002 study published in The American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers in Spain found drinking 8 to 14 glasses of week could help as much as 60% reduction in susceptibility to the common cold. A 1993 study at Carnegie Mellon also found that in 391 adult participants, those who did drink in moderation were more resistant to catching a cold, except in smokers.

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