Health & Fit Drinking too much alcohol can be terrible for your heart and overall health — here's how much you can drink safely
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- Alcohol may not harm your heart if you drink moderately, and some research has even found heart benefits, though those results are debated.
- The American Heart Association recommends no more than one drink per day for women, and no more than two drinks per day for men.
- Research has found that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to high blood pressure, raise your heart rate, and increase your risk for many types of heart disease.
- This article by , MD, MS, a family medicine physician and clinical assistant professor at .
- This story is part of Insider's guide to .
Alcohol's impact on your heart is largely dependent on how much you drink. The American Heart Associationno more than one drink per day for women, and two drinks per day for men.
How Much Wine is Safe to Drink Per Day?
You'll often see the same phrase when it comes to reaping wine's health benefits: it has to be in moderation. But what exactly does this mean?But if you want to reap these benefits rather than drinking alcohol's downfalls (weight gain, belly fat, disrupted sleep), then you'll want to make sure you're drinking the right amount of wine. So how much wine is too much? (Related: 100 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet.
"If you get above that, you start to lose your benefit and exchange it for harm," says, MD, a cardiologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
How moderate alcohol consumption affects the heart
Light to moderate drinking may have some protective benefits for your heart,to a 2017 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
The study found that men who drank less than 14 drinks per week were 21% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, and women who drank less than seven drinks per week had a 34% reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality.
"The key is moderation," Gilstrap says. "It's never recommended that a patient start drinking for cardiovascular benefits, but someone who has a glass of wine with dinner can continue to enjoy that."
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However, when you drink, your heart rate, as does your blood pressure. A found that even moderate drinking — at seven to 13 drinks per week — increased rates of high blood pressure. Compared to people who never drink, moderate drinkers were 53% more likely to have , a major risk factor for .
Moreover, additional research has casted doubt on whether alcohol has any heart benefits. Apublished in The Lancet analyzed data from 195 countries and concluded that "the safest level of drinking is none." That study called for reconsideration of guidelines that say moderate drinking is safe.
Excessive alcohol consumption harms your heart
Most of the negative effects of alcohol on your heart come with heavy drinking or binge drinking, which is defined by the National Institutes of Health as more thanper day, or five drinks in one setting.
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Heavy drinking can raise blood pressure and heart rate. Onefound that women who drink heavily are three times more likely to have hypertension, while binge drinkers of both sexes are 70% more likely to have high blood pressure.
In addition, the more you drink,will get. This increased heart rate may contribute to (AFib), an irregular heartbeat that increases risk for stroke and heart failure. Alcohol consumption is with increased risk for AFib, even at moderate levels. Heavy drinking can also lead to a condition called , where people experience AFib without having any history of the condition.
Finally, heavy drinkers are also 1.5 times more likely than non-drinkers to experience a stroke, according to.
The benefits of red wine might be overstated
The idea thatgets a lot of press, but the full story is more complicated than that, Gilstrap says. The American Heart Association, for example, says that drinking more red wine will generally not lead to a healthier heart.
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Drinking plenty of water is one of the major tenets of weight loss. But just how much water is enough? Here's how you can drink water to lose weight.But just hearing that you need to drink "lots" of water can be confusing. For some people, that could be the standard eight 8-ounce glasses, but others could need a lot more (or perhaps less). We tapped dietitian Jim White, RD, ACSM, and owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios, to find out just exactly how much water you should be drinking to lose weight. And for more, be sure to check out 16 Ways You're Drinking Water Wrong.
However, red wine has antioxidant properties and flavonoids, molecules that can benefit heart health, in moderation. A 2017in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that moderate drinking had a positive impact on cholesterol, and that wine in particular increased levels of , which is an indicator of a healthy heart.
There are healthier ways to get the benefits of antioxidants and flavonoids, which are rich in almonds, berries, apples, citrus, spinach, and black and green tea (or, if you're craving a treat).
All of the research with different conclusions can be confusing. Yet there are some clear takeaways: heavy drinking can hurt your heart health, while a standard drink (of any variety) over dinner is likely fine for most people. Of course, it's best to talk to your doctor about your particular situation before indulging.
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