Well both. You see, moderation is the key word here. One drink (and I’m not talking about those jumbo wine glasses) can actually – dare I say it – be good for you.

How much is too much?

When it comes to specifics, research shows that one drink a day for women and up to two for men (don’t know why men get to have more fun) is the recommended amount to keep your heart functioning at its best, after which it can actually start to damage your heart.

On the other end of the spectrum, heavy alcohol consumption can increase your risk for heart attacks and strokes. This includes what we all refer to as “social drinking”. Basically, you can’t save up all your drinks during the week and binge on the weekends. Sorry to say, but it doesn’t work like that.

What are the health benefits?

Moderate alcohol consumption may increase your levels of HDL (the good cholesterol), which in turn lowers the levels of LDL (the bad cholesterol) as well as thin your blood ever so slightly and can therefore be beneficial for your heart.

HOWEVER, there’s a catch! If you already have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or any kind of heart disease, drinking alcohol can have the opposite effect.

Does it matter WHAT you’re drinking?

Previous trains of thought implied that some alcohol was better for your health than others, however your body reacts to alcohol in the same way, no matter what you’re drinking.

The reason red wine is thought to be healthier is because it contains resveratrol (a plant chemical that reduces inflammation), but not because it is a different source of alcohol. So whether your flavour of choice is beer, whiskey or gin, it doesn’t make much of a difference – just remember they call it beer belly for a reason. All in all, a moderate alcohol intake has shown to improve heart health in healthy individuals.

Once again, just keep it PG13. Let’s keep the dancing on tables and regrettable hangovers to a minimum.

By Dr. Jennifer Delport