Page last updated: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The Importance of Drinking at Mealtimes
Epidemiological studies have demonstrated a positive relationship between heavy alcohol use and hypertension, but few studies have directly addressed the role of drinking pattern. 

This New York study was designed to investigate the association of current alcohol consumption and aspects of drinking pattern with hypertension risk in a sample of 2,609 white men and women, aged 35 to 80 years, and free from other cardiovascular diseases. 

The results suggest that among current drinkers, those who consume alcohol without food 75% of the time have significantly increased risk of hypertension in comparison with subjects consuming their alcohol with food.  Results were not statistically different according to type of beverage, although the estimates of risk of hypertension were slightly higher for spirits drinkers than consumers of beer or wine, including beneficial effects in the post-prandial state on fibrinolysis and lipids, decrease in LDL, susceptibility to lipid peroxidation, a slower increase and lower peak of blood alcohol concentration, and a possible increase in alcohol elimination rates when associated with food intake. 

The association of alcohol intake with food consumption shown in this study is in line with results from a small italian study, where researchers found that when alcohol of any type was consumed only with meals there was a decrease in the odds ratio for acute myocardial infarction of 45% for subjects consuming 2 drinks per day and 50% for subjects consuming 3 or more.  An inconsistent and non-significant pattern was seen for alcohol consumption “also outside meals or outside meals only.”

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