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Are alcohol and high cholesterol linked? In most cases, drinking alcohol in moderation is okay for someone with high cholesterol. In fact, research studies on alcohol and high cholesterol have shown that HDL cholesterol can be raised by about 4 mg/dL with moderate alcohol consumption. People who consume alcohol and high cholesterol medicine should be aware that alcohol can worsen side effects, like drowsiness.

Alcohol and High Cholesterol: An Overview

People with high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia or hyperlipidemia) often wonder if it is okay to drink alcohol. Drinking alcohol is fine for someone with high cholesterol -- but in moderation. In fact, moderate amounts of alcohol have actually been shown to help protect against heart disease, stroke, and heart- or blood vessel-related death, reducing the risk between 25 percent and 40 percent.
On the other hand, drinking too much alcohol, while it does not seem to increase cholesterol, will increase triglycerides and can harm the liver, brain, and heart. If a person cannot stop at one to two drinks per day, alcohol should be avoided, because the health risks will outweigh the benefits.

Alcohol and High Cholesterol: What Is Moderate Drinking?

When healthcare providers recommend moderate alcohol drinking, they mean one drink a day for women, two drinks a day for men. Because the alcohol content in drinks varies, what counts as one drink also varies. When healthcare providers talk about one alcohol drink, they are referring to one of the following examples:
  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1½ ounces of 80-proof liquor (or 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits).
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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