How Does Alcohol Affect Triglyceride Levels?


Gina Garippo

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You may have heard that drinking alcohol can be good for your heart health. Studies suggest that moderate alcohol consumption may lower the risk for heart disease in adults. But if you have high triglycerides, you might want to reevaluate your alcohol intake. Reducing how much you drink -- or stopping altogether -- can improve triglyceride levels.

Alcohol Boosts Triglycerides

Research shows that drinking alcohol -- even in small amounts -- can increase triglyceride levels. Alcohol can boost your calorie intake, and any excess calories that aren't immediately used for energy are converted to triglycerides.

Drinking alcohol can also hike your consumption of other foods and drinks that increase triglycerides. For example, people who drink a lot of alcohol are more likely to eat lots of fatty foods. And fruit juices or soft drinks mixed with alcohol are high in sugar and calories.

Drinking too much alcohol not only increases triglycerides, but also increases the likelihood of liver problems, high blood pressure, certain cancers and other health problems. A high alcohol intake may also up the risk for metabolic syndrome -- a cluster of conditions that raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Moderation Is Key

So while the news about alcohol and heart disease isn't all bad, those with high triglyceride levels should weigh the risks and benefits of alcohol consumption. Alcohol increases triglycerides. And having high triglycerides boosts the risk of heart disease and coronary artery disease.

If you have triglyceride problems, talk with your doctor about your alcohol intake. Most experts recommend that for the best heart health, you may need to reduce the amount you drink or consider not drinking alcohol altogether. If you do drink, always do so in moderation. In general, this means no more than one drink a day for women and two for men.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Apr 4, 2017

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