Arthur Agatston, MD, cardiologist encourages those who enjoy alcohol to also drink it with meals.
"Alcohol can stimulate the appetite so it is better to drink it with food. When alcohol is mixed with food, it can slow the stomach's emptying time and potentially decrease the amount of food consumed at the meal," explains Agatston. His alcohol of choice is red wine due to the antioxidant resveratrol.
Resveratrol is a member of a group of plant compounds called polyphenols. These compounds are thought to have antioxidant properties, protecting the body against the kind of damage linked to increased risk for conditions such as cancer and heart disease. Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes
Can wine lower your cholesterol?
Eric Rimm, DrS, a Harvard researcher outlines that alcohol also can have a very powerful effect and increase HDL "good" cholesterol by 20% if consumed moderately in addition to healthy diet and regular physical activity. Higher HDL levels are linked to lower risks of heart disease.
"The research evidence points to ethanol, or the alcohol component, of beer, wine, or spirits as the substrate that can help lower cholesterol levels, increase 'good' HDL cholesterol," states Rimm.
His advice is choose whichever alcoholic beverage you enjoy, drink it in moderation and try to have it with meals.
Is red wine the best for your health?
Should we raise a glass and toast to red wine? Scientists have found that red wines have higher levels of polyphenols, antioxidants than white wines. Wine antioxidants are found most abundantly in the skin of the grape. This being the reason red wines carry the largest amount of antioxidants. White wines will have a much lower concentration, as the grape skins are removed to create the clear, white colour of the wine.
In general, the darker the red wine, the more concentrated the antioxidant content- tests have shown that cabernet sauvignon grapes were shown to contain the most polyphenols.
According to Professor Andrew Waterhouse, of the University of California, suggests that zinfandel, syrah and petit syrah are other red grape varieties that have medium to high levels of antioxidants.
Waterhouse also suggests that wines from milder regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rioja and California's Napa Valley, may have higher antioxidant levels than wines from hot regions such as Languedoc in France and southern Italy.
What is considered binge drinking?
The World Health Organisation has defined binge drinking as drinking six or more standard drinks (about 3 pints of beer) during one drinking occasion. However some researchers have argued against this definition because this level of consumption could occur over the course of an evening of eating and socialising therefore it should not be classified as a ‘binge’.
However The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks, and when women consume 4 or more drinks, in about 2 hours.
What is considered drinking in moderation?
The experts say women should not regularly exceed 2 units per day and men should not regularly exceed more than 3 units per day.
Why are the guidelines different for men and women?
Women's bodies are generally smaller and have less body water, so alcohol concentrations rise more quickly. There is also evidence that women break down alcohol slightly differently to men. The enzyme ADH breaks down alcohol in the liver and in the lining of the stomach; and women have less of it, so alcohol is broken down more slowly.
What is a unit of alcohol?
One unit is 10 ml of pure alcohol. Alcoholic drinks come in different strengths and sizes, therefore units are a way to tell how strong your drink is. See the diagram below to guide you in defining the units you typically consume.
It takes an average adult around an hour to process one unit so that there's none left in their bloodstream, however this is an estimate and varies from person to person.
The importance of drinking responsibly
Be sure to always drink responsibly.
According to Alcohol Concern, at least one in four men and one in seven women drink more than the recommended guidelines. Drinking more than the guidelines can have detrimental effects on your health. It can make you more vulnerable to heart disorders, including high blood pressure and stroke, even if you are not in a high-risk group. It may also contribute to liver disease. For those who drink more than five units a day they are more likely to develop cancer of the mouth, larynx or oesophagus. For young women in their twenties, drinking heavily can contribute to osteoporosis later in life. Drinking too much alcohol can result in a higher rate of accidents.
Dr Morten Gronbaek from the Danish National Health Institute argues that moderate wine drinkers have fewer coronary diseases and cancers than those who prefer other alcoholic drinks.
So ladies and gents, remember everything in moderation! Please drink responsible.