Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Alcohol - Live Better, Live Longer

Abigail Zuger, of the New York Times gave some advice in 2003 [pre-blogging days and unattributable] which I plan to wholeheartedly accept, irrespective:

A study published in May in the Journal of the American Medical Association confirmed that alcohol raises the blood levels of HDL, the "good" cholesterol. Moderate drinking can raise the levels more than 10 per cent. Heavy drinking raises them even higher.

By comparison, running a few kilometres a week increases HDL a fraction of that, while the B vitamin niacin, probably the most effective medication for raising HDL levels, has to be taken at high doses with many side effects for similar results. The statin low-cholesterol drugs, which work by reducing LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, seldom raise HDL levels substantially.

Half the heart benefits of moderate drinking stem directly from the HDL gain. Alcohol also makes the blood flow a little more freely, by decreasing blood proteins that promote clotting, and increasing those that prevent clotting. Like low-dose aspirin, which also helps prevent heart attacks, alcohol keeps the tiny blood cells called platelets from adhering to one another and forming damaging clots.

Alcohol may also help the heart by preventing diabetes, a risk factor for heart disease. Moderate drinkers are, on average, a little thinner than non-drinkers, and less likely to develop the diabetes associated with obesity and insulin resistance.

Besides alcohol, red wine contains more than 200 natural chemicals, mostly derived from grape skins and seeds. Many are antioxidants. The antioxidant activity in a glass of red wine equals that in seven glasses of orange juice or 20 of apple juice, one researcher estimates.

Antioxidants are widely thought to have many good effects, such as increasing tissue blood flow and protecting cells from oxidative injury much as rust-proofing protects a car.

Last December, researchers in London announced in the journal Nature that alcohol-free extracts of red wines kept blood vessel cells from producing endothelin-1, a chemical that constricts blood vessels. That may mean that red wine enhances the blood flow to organs such as the heart and brain, above what might be expected from its alcohol content.

Sounds great to me. Here's ta lookin' at ya, kid!

Crossposted at Nourishing Obscurity


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, although I often long to engage in social drinking, my medicine regime forbids it. Every single tablet I take contraindicates alcohol - how unlucky is that?

jmb said...

I'll be joining Shirl in the teetotal corner, not because it's medically indicated, just am. But we'll have fun anyway.

So can you find any other acceptable way to raise our HDL other than alcohol and jogging please sir?

PinkAcorn said...

I think it's all about moderation. I take medication and drink a glass of wine now and then ...
Now jogging, that makes wrinkles and I'll have none of that!

James Higham said...

Moderation, yes. No more than 10 wines at any one time. :)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

That sounds all right to me, too! Thanks for the post, James.


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