Alcohol can have a double effect on cholesterol levels. On one hand, it can be beneficial by increasing the good or HDL cholesterol. On the other, it may be harmful by increasing the bad cholesterol or LDL. How does alcohol affect cholesterol levels, depends on its high or moderate intake. Thus, excessive alcohol consumption can cause hypercholesterolemia.
According to several studies moderate drinking, especially red wine helps increase HDL or good cholesterol, thanks to its phenolics and tannins components. Thus, red wine is considered as cardio-protective. But what happens when alcohol consumption is excessive? How does it relate to the process of hypercholesterolemia?
LDL cholesterol associated with high alcohol intake
Alcohol is metabolized in the liver, the solid organ in the abdomen responsible for metabolizing fats also. When drinking is excessive the enzymes that metabolize fats must fulfill another function, responsible for the metabolism of excess alcohol. That leads to a greater concentration of fat in the liver and therefore an increase in bad cholesterol or LDL and triglycerides also.
If excessive alcohol intake is maintained over time, it can produce a liver inflammation and later fatty liver and cirrhosis.
Furthermore, the excess alcohol increases the risk of formation of atheroma due to very high LDL cholesterol levels. It triggers as well as an increase in heart size with a loss in muscle tone, which brings about an alcoholic cardiomyopathy.
It is therefore essential to drink moderately. It is advised to drink no more than two glasses of red wine per day to achieve the cardioprotective effects of it.
Alcoholism is a social disease that affects not only the sufferer, but also their immediate environment, so if you feel you drink excessively, get immediate help from a specialist. Do it for your health and those around you.