A recent study demonstrated that consuming 2 or more drinks per day is associated with an increase in HDL cholesterol over a 3 year period. HDL cholesterol, or ‘good’ cholesterol, appears to scour the walls of blood vessels, cleaning out excess cholesterol. It then carries that excess cholesterol - which otherwise might have been used to make the plaques that cause coronary artery disease - back to the liver for processing.
The research was based on 1,420 men with ≥2 HDL-C measurements from the US Department of Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study (NAS). Changes in HDL-C (in milligrams/deciliter) over a 3-year period were calculated for each pair of examinations. For each interval of HDL-C change, lifestyle exposures were categorised: participants maintained a stable BMI >25 kg/m2 (reference) or ≤25 kg/m2 since the previous exam, or increased or decreased BMI; participants were actively smoking at both exams (reference), nonsmokers at both exams, quit, or initiated smoking between exams; and participants maintained alcohol intake of <2 (reference) or ≥2 drinks daily since the previous exam, or increased or decreased alcohol intake. Longitudinal analysis was used to examine the relationship between the lifestyle change categories and 3-year change in HDL-C for each interval, adjusting for comorbidities, lipids, and cholesterol medication.
Participants were followed for approximately 14.3 years. Increases in HDL-C were associated with maintaining alcohol intake of ≥2 drinks daily (mean HDL-C increase, 0.86), increasing alcohol intake from <2 to ≥2 drinks daily (mean, 2.53), and with maintaining a BMI of ≤25 kg/m2 (mean, 0.71).
The authors conclude that increases in alcohol consumption, maintaining moderate alcohol intake, and maintaining BMI ≤25 kg/m2 were associated with significant 3-year increases in HDL-C.
Source: Lifestyle Change and High-Density Lipoprotein Change: The US Department of Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study. Rahilly-Tierney C, Vokonas P, Gaziano JM, Spiro A 3rd. Clin Cardiol. 2012 Mar 8. doi: 10.1002/clc.21978.