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Health Update

Monday, May 22, 2017

Courtesy of Russell R Van Hemert DC

Does Alcohol Have a Place in a Healthy Diet?

Alcohol is public health's quintessential "double-edged sword." Moderate intake of alcohol is consistently associated with reduced cardiovascular risk, and since heart disease is the number one killer of men and women alike, a reduction in overall mortality. But, of course, excess alcohol is terribly harmful to health in a variety of ways, and even moderate alcohol intake is associated with an increase in the number two cause of premature death: cancer.

Yes, alcohol can have a place in a healthy diet. However, how much you are drinking affects your life. Alcoholic beverages don’t contain any vital nutrients. This is why they are often called “empty calories.”

A healthy diet consists of the right amount of food from each food group. One gram of alcohol provides 7 calories compared to 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate and 9 calories per gram of fat. If you choose alcohol to provide most of the calories you need, then your risk of having nutritional deficiencies.

According to National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, binge drinking (consumption of 4 or more drinks a day for women and 5 or more drinks a day for men) and heavy drinking (consumption of 8 or more drinks a week for women and 15 or more drinks a week for men) can lead to injuries, birth defects, and social and chronic health problems such as several types of cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and liver disease.

With alcohol, like everything else, moderation is key. First, keep track of how often and how much you drink. Then, set a goal on the amount of drinks on the days that you drink. Have no more than 4 drinks on any day if you are a man and 3 drinks if you are a woman. These limits may help reduce, though not completely eliminate, alcohol related risks.

By David L. Katz, MD, Senior Medical Advisor, Verywell - Reviewed by a board-certified physician.

Updated March 19, 2017

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