Is that beer, glass of wine or cocktail you enjoy good or bad for your health? The answer, according to experts, may be both.
Recent studies have concluded that moderate alcohol consumption benefits the heart. Drinking alcohol, particularly red wine, has been linked to a reduced risk of health concerns including heart disease, stroke and dementia. Red wine contains antioxidants and other substances that, according to research, help dilate the arteries and reduce inflammation in the body.
A spokesperson for the American Heart Association says, "Alcohol can definitely be part of a heart-healthy diet if you're drinking responsibly."
That means up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. One drink is equivalent to five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor. The important thing to know: more is not better.
Alcohol can raise your triglyceride levels, lead to higher blood pressure and cause weight gain. Studies have also linked excessive drinking with increased risk of certain cancers, asthma and allergies.
Bottom line: according to the American Heart Association, alcohol is only beneficial if you drink at a low level, don't take certain medications, don't have liver disease and are not pregnant.