Cholesterol is an important measurement in managing health, protecting the heart, and preventing chronic health conditions. There are several types of cholesterol – the most significant numbers that your primary care provider will be concerned with are the total cholesterol, low density liproprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and the triglycerides. LDL and triglycerides are considered the “bad cholesterol” and HDL is considered “good cholesterol.” The LDL cholesterol in excess can accumulate and build up into the vessel lining creating plaques that narrow the blood vessel. Narrowed vessels may block blood flow increasing the risk of adverse cardiovascular events. Several studies have shown that higher levels of HDL protect against infections, fight against inflammation, and prevent against plaque build-up in the arteries. The cholesterol goal that your provider will aim for is individualized depending on other health factors. Typically, it is desirable for both men and women to be above 60 mg/dl. Men are at risk when HDL is less than 40 mg/dl and women are at risk when HDL is less than 50 mg/dl. The first line for treating high cholesterol levels is lifestyle management before implementing cholesterol medications to protect the heart such as statins, niacin, and fibrates.

It’s All About Moderation

Although alcohol is typically associated with liver disease, heart failure, increased cancer risk, and neurologic complications when used excessively, it can be incorporated into a healthy diet for modest health benefits. Red wine intake at a moderate and appropriate amount can have a positive impact on the body such as on cardiovascular function especially in preventing coronary heart disease and decreasing risk of a heart attack. Research suggests that light to moderate wine consumption is linked to a forty to seventy percent decrease in coronary heart disease when compared with no drinking or heavy alcohol consumption. Polyphenols are found in red wine and appear to have antioxidant effects and immunomodulatory properties. Polyphenols also have a vasodilator property that could contribute to a decrease in blood pressure and therefore, adverse cardiovascular risk. Polyphenols are found mostly in plants but also in foods made from plants such as tea, coffee, cocoa, and olive oil.

About HDL Cholesterol

HDL cholesterol may rise by ten percent with consumption of two to three drinks per day. A study with 38,826 women and 18,225 men found that 30 grams of alcohol per day can increase HDL cholesterol by 4.0 mg/dl and thereby reduces the risk of a heart attack. The increase in HDL cholesterol may be due to a decrease in the cholesteryl ester transfer protein activity. Cholesteryl ester transfer protein plays a part in exchange of lipids of HDL cholesterol for triglycerides. Therefore, wine consumption decreases cholesteryl ester transfer protein activity and decreases the exchange of HDL for triglycerides. Wine may also increase apolipoprotein A-I and A-II that is found within HDL cholesterol.

What Else You Can Do

For those considering wine for improving cholesterol, this should also be paired with smoking cessation, physical activity, and overall healthy diet for the best effects. A healthy cholesterol diet should also include cutting sugar intake, and moderate fatty fish, olive oil, and dark chocolate intake. Purple foods specifically can both raise good cholesterol and lower LDL levels due to the chemical anthocyanins found in these fruits and vegetables. A standard alcoholic drink is considered five ounces of wine and moderate drinking is less than two drinks per day in women and fewer than three drinks per day for men. For those that exceed this limit, wine consumption is associated with an increased mortality and risk for sudden death. Red wine specifically raises HDL while also providing other benefits including a decrease in blood sugar and blood pressure.

Which Red Wine To Drink

The choice is yours. At Miles we have a few red wines we recommend, such as Merlot, Cab Franc, and Call Me a Cab. These red wines are easy to drink, go with almost any meal, and make taking care of your health an easy job.