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Cholesterol in Beer & Wine

By Meg Brannagan

Beer is a type of alcoholic drink made from a mixture of malted grain, such as barley, with hops and yeast. Wine is created from the juice of grapes that has been processed, fermented and bottled. Both beverages contain no cholesterol.


Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the type of cholesterol that can collect in the arteries, potentially causing blockage. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) removes excess cholesterol and takes it back to the liver, where it can be excreted. Cholesterol is found only in products that are animal-based, such as meat and dairy. Beer and wine are created from plants.


In a 2002 study by the University of Texas Southwestern, Dr. Norman Kaplan stated that drinking beer in moderation may help to reduce your risk of heart attack and can increase levels of HDL, the good cholesterol. Moderation is considered one 12 oz. beer daily for women or two 12 oz. beers a day for men.


Various types of wine exist based on the variant of grape, the location of the vineyard, or whether it is red, blush or white. Dr. Philip S. Chua, M.D. of the CEBU Cardiovascular Center states that red wine has properties that can help to prevent cardiovascular disease. The skin of the grapes contains phytochemicals, which are antioxidants that help to prevent coronary heart disease. Because red wine is initially fermented with the grape skins, it has these beneficial properties.


Drinking alcohol has been shown to decrease levels of HDL cholesterol and alcoholic beverages can reduce the risk of blood clots, according to the American Heart Association, but you should not begin drinking alcohol simply to obtain these benefits. You can also decrease your risk of heart disease and lower your cholesterol levels by following a diet low in saturated fat. If you do drink, maintain a moderate alcohol intake.


Although there is no cholesterol found in beer and wine, some people should still avoid alcohol because of other circumstances. Excessive beer or wine consumption during pregnancy is related to fetal alcohol syndrome, and drinking too much alcohol impairs your judgment. Binge drinking increases your risk of stroke and high blood pressure, and adds extra calories to your diet. Some people cannot handle alcohol and may become addicted. For these reasons, the American Heart Association recommends that if you do not already drink alcohol, it is better not to start.

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