Many of us enjoy a refreshing glass of wine with dinner and maybe an extra cocktail or two to relax at the end of a long day. But have you ever wondered how that ritual may be affecting your health? According to new research, your habit may actually be helpful for your heart — up to a point.
Scientists from the American College of Cardiology recently decided to take a closer look at how alcohol may positively or negatively impact the heart of people ages 50 and above, especially if the number of drinks a person has on any given day increases. To do this, they took a look at data from the Mass General Brigham Biobank survey, which had a total of 53,064 participants, but they honed in on responses from older people.
After combing the data, they found that moderate drinkers — which is defined as people who have between one and 14 drinks per week — actually had a lower risk of undergoing a cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke than people who abstained from drinking altogether, as well as heavy drinkers. They believe that drinking in moderation on a weekly basis calms stress signals that the body sends to the brain, relieving a lot of tension and strain. In return, a calmer mind also means a calmer heart, lowering the risk of a major cardiovascular event.
However, the benefits of drinking do have a limit. “Heavy” drinkers, defined as those who consistently had more two drinks per day every week, actually saw an uptick in stress signals to the brain, therefore increasing their risk of heart disease or another related issue. Moreover, scientists are quick to point out that there needs to be more research surrounding how different types of alcohol and different quantities of alcohol affect the heart since this was aggregated and self-reported data.
Though you still need to keep an eye on how much you drink, it’s nice to know that a glass of wine at the end of a long day isn’t necessarily a bad thing!