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What is cholesterol? While, most people despise this substance, they are unaware of the fact that it is one of the requirements of a healthy body. It is basically a waxy substance (a lipid), that is naturally produced in the body by the liver, and is also present in most kinds of foods. Speaking of its benefits, it is required for the production of vitamin D in the body, in building cells walls, and with its help, the body creates bile salts that are required in digestion. The amount of cholesterol that is produced by the liver in a day (about 1,000 milligrams) is considered good enough to meet all the requirements such as those mentioned above. However, we all know how difficult it is to avoid the intake of cholesterol from external sources. After all, who would want to ignore those delicious, crispy, juicy cheese fry! Now cholesterol is found in two forms; HDL (high-density lipoprotein), the 'good' cholesterol, and LDL (low-density lipoprotein), the 'bad' one. HDL adds to the health and also enhances heart function. LDL, on the other hand, is responsible for heart diseases. And unfortunately, most cholesterol is the LDL cholesterol.

Alcohol and Cholesterol

Many clinical studies and researches have been able to establish the linkage between alcohol and cholesterol. And that is why people with high cholesterol levels remain dubious whether or not they can enjoy drinking alcohol. It is true when it is said that moderate amount of alcohol is actually beneficial to one's health. In fact, in most people, moderate drinking has shown to prevent heart diseases, stroke, and even deaths associated with medical conditions related to blood vessels. Coming to the point, alcohol when taken in moderate quantities has also shown to boost the HDL levels in the body. And when HDL levels increase, it collects unwanted deposits of cholesterol from the blood vessels and carries it back to the liver, so that it can be eliminated from the body. However, unfortunately, alcohol has not shown any activity that reduces the LDL cholesterol or lower the total cholesterol.

Although, seemingly drinking too much does not increase cholesterol, but anything beyond 'moderation' does increase the level of triglycerides. These substances are a type of fat that is found in blood. Calories obtained from food that are of no use right away are converted into these fats and stored in the fat cells. And later, when the body requires energy, these fats deposits are utilized. High triglyceride levels increase the risk of heart diseases, and can also prove detrimental to harm the liver, and brain.

How Much is Moderate?

I have been stressing on the point of drinking alcohol in moderate amounts, but it is imperative to know how much is defined as moderate and how much is not. For women, it is one drink a day, and for men, two. In case of beer, one drink usually refers to 12 oz., and for wine, it is 5 oz. And when it comes to 80-proof liquor, 1 and a half oz. is considered as one drink.

Alcohol can also influence medications prescribed for managing high cholesterol levels. Such medications can cause side effects like drowsiness, and fatigue, and these can be heightened by drinking alcohol during the course of medication. And to add to this, alcohol may interfere with the medications, and may make them less effective.