Alcohol often gets a bad rap–studies show it can cause everything from high blood pressure to breast cancer–but we often don’t hear about its good effects on a woman’s health. Surprisingly enough, moderate drinking habits may help decrease a woman’s risk for many diseases and health problems. Of course, that’s the keyword–moderate drinking, not full-on alcohol binges.
So how can alcohol benefit women? Here are six good reasons to drink up:
1. It’s heart-healthy. According to the National Institutes of Health, moderate drinking habits may lower the risk for coronary heart disease, a disease where the blood vessels narrow due to plaque build-up. Women over age 55 benefit the most from moderate alcohol consumption, or a standard serving of alcohol per day. Unfortunately, drinking alone won’t lower your risk, but may be helpful as part of a heart-healthy plan.
2. It may prevent strokes. According to UpToDate.com, moderate drinking habits may reduce the risk for ischemic stroke by 40 to 70 percent–that’s a significant amount! Unfortunately, the same does not apply to women who drink too much alcohol. Heavy drinkers often face a higher risk for ischemic stroke, so it’s best to curtail your drinking habits if it’s a problem.
3. It slows bone loss. One study found that postmenopausal women who had one alcoholic beverage a day were 20 percent less likely to develop hip fractures–a common complication of osteopenia. (Source: USNews.com)
Though no studies have confirmed that alcohol is necessary to stop bone loss, correlational evidence is convincing. This doesn’t mean it’s okay to skimp on other methods used to preserve bone mass, however, such as calcium and a strength-training regimen.
4. It’s good for a woman’s cholesterol. According to the University of Florida, alcohol helps raises good cholesterol levels, which can make a woman’s overall cholseterol healthier. Along with other lifestyle changes, such as eating nutritious foods and exercising, a serving of alcohol may help women get their cholesterol under control. In turn, increasing good cholesterol levels also helps protect the heart.
5. It may help women maintain a healthy weight. The reasons for this are not clear, but a 1985 health study showed that people who drank moderately were more likely to maintain a healthy weight. This certainly goes against the belief that alcohol drinkers are usually out of shape; moderate drinkers were also shown to exercise more regularly.
This doesn’t mean drinking more alcohol will shed those stubborn pounds, however–it just shows that moderate drinkers generally have healthier lifestyle habits.
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National Institutes of Health
University of Florida