Does Alcohol Raise Cholesterol?
Good cholesterol, bad cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol…it can be confusing, especially when health trends seem to quickly change between what’s good and what’s bad for you.
More than 90 million Americans have high cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Not only does your body make cholesterol, but it’s also found in many of the foods you enjoy the most.
While knowing what’s acceptable when it comes to cholesterol can be tricky, there’s one thing we have no doubts about — the harmful effects alcohol has on the body. But you may wonder: Does alcohol raise cholesterol? We share the facts.
Are you or someone you love suffering from high cholesterol and alcoholism? We can help. Zinnia Healing offers various substance abuse therapies to help people like you recover. You can search for a rehab center near you and call us at (855) 430-9439 to get started.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is naturally found in the body. According to the National Library of Medicine, cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body uses and is found in every cell.
Cholesterol serves a number of important purposes.
- Makes hormones (estrogen, testosterone)
- Makes vitamins (vitamin D)
- Makes other substances that aid in digestion
Your body makes enough cholesterol, so there’s no need to get any more from food. In fact, too much of a good thing can be harmful.
What Is Too Much Cholesterol?
If your doctor told you that you have high cholesterol, it means that higher levels of fats in your blood exceed 200 milligrams per deciliter (200 mg/dL). Soaring cholesterol levels are serious because they put you at higher risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
Your body needs a certain amount of cholesterol to function at tip-top shape. However, cholesterol and fat can’t dissolve in the blood. That means the body must store excess cholesterol and fat in tiny packages called lipoproteins.
Harvard University indicates that the most important lipoproteins include:
- Low-density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol) – carry “bad cholesterol” from the liver that can clog arteries
- High-density lipoproteins (HDL cholesterol) – scavenge for “good cholesterol” to carry back to the liver to be disposed
- Triglycerides – contain all fats that travel through the blood to cells
These particles are covered in proteins and can mix with blood. They range in size, so they can be big and fluffy or small and dense. When plaque from LDL breaks apart, it can cause heart failure and strokes. In addition, high triglyceride levels can be unhealthy.
Does Drinking Alcohol Raise Cholesterol Levels?
The biggest influence on blood cholesterol levels is the mix of fats and carbohydrates in your diet—not the amount of cholesterol you eat from food.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, you should limit the consumption of:
- Sugars: less than 10% of calories per day
- Saturated fat: less than 10% of calories per day
- Sodium: less than 2,300 milligrams per day
- Alcoholic beverages: two drinks or less in a day for men and one drink or less in a day for women
Moderate amounts are suggested, but alcohol is high in sugars and offers little to no nutritional value. Also, drinking too much alcohol can increase your level of cholesterol.
If you have any of the following apply to you, it’s best to avoid drinking alcohol altogether:
- Medications that interact with alcohol
- Medical conditions made worse by drinking alcohol
- Alcohol use disorder (AUD)
- Pregnant or think you might be pregnant
- Older adults who need to drive, operate machinery, or participate in any activities requiring good coordination and alertness
What Foods Contain Cholesterol?
Aside from naturally occurring cholesterol, it’s also found in a wide range of foods, primarily those sourced from animals. Harvard University warns about the following foods that are notorious for containing high levels of cholesterol.
- Red meat (e.g., hamburgers, beef roasts, ribs, lamb chops)
- Fried foods (e.g., chicken wings, cheese sticks, onion rings)
- Processed foods (e.g., bacon, hot dogs, sausage)
- Baked goods (e.g., cake, cookies, pastries)
Dairy products, including cheese and egg yolks, have high levels of cholesterol as well. However, eggs are high in protein and other essential nutrients, so they’re not as bad as they were once made out to be. It’s the fatty foods you must avoid or limit.
Zinnia Healing knows all too well how difficult it can be to eat right and limit alcohol intake. That’s why we offer customized programs to help you make healthier choices. If you’re struggling with high cholesterol and alcohol addiction, call us at (855) 430-9439 today — we’re standing by 25/7, ready to help you recover.
What Foods Are Known To Help Lower Levels of Cholesterol?
The easiest way to lower cholesterol when you’re told you have high levels of it is through your diet. We’ve already talked about the foods to avoid.
The following are foods listed by Harvard University as the best ones to help you maintain a healthier and lower level of cholesterol.
- Oats (e.g., oatmeal, Cheerios)
- Whole grains (e.g., oats, oat bran, barley)
- Beans (e.g., navy beans, kidney beans, lentils, garbanzos, black-eyed peas, etc.)
- Eggplant and okra
- Nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, peanuts, etc.)
- Vegetable oils (e.g., canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil)
- Fruits (e.g., apples, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits)
- Sterols and stanols (e.g., granola bars, supplements, and other fortified foods)
- Soy (e.g., soybeans, soy milk, tofu)
- Fatty fish (e.g., tuna, salmon, sardines, halibut, swordfish)
- Fiber supplements (e.g., Metamucil)
There’s no miracle cure or medication to eliminate high cholesterol levels. It mostly comes down to diet and lifestyle changes.
When you eat healthy foods and minimize or avoid heavy alcohol use, you can prevent the effects it can have on your body. In many cases, it’s even reversible.
Prevent and Reverse the Effects of High Cholesterol and Alcohol Addiction
Your body needs cholesterol for everything from producing vitamins and hormones to aiding in digestion. Too much cholesterol obtained in the foods you eat can put you at a greater risk.
That’s because “bad cholesterol” can cause a buildup of plaque in the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis. When this plaque breaks off, it can travel to the heart or brain and cause a heart attack or stroke.
In addition to what you eat, drinking too much alcohol can cause your levels of cholesterol to rise.
According to an article published by the National Library of Medicine, the impact alcohol has on your body depends on the type, frequency, and amount of alcohol you drink, along with genetic risk factors.
Drinking excess levels of alcohol can lead to various health conditions, whether from binge drinking or regular and frequent drinking. Heavy alcohol use can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
As a result, you could be at risk of developing long-term cardiovascular diseases such as arrhythmia and stroke, cancers such as breast cancer and colon cancer, liver disease, and so much more.
That’s why it’s vital to make heart-healthy diet choices and lifestyle changes that help you prevent and reverse the detrimental effects of drinking.
You may have high cholesterol and not even know it. If you’re a regular and heavy drinker, you could be negatively impacting your health even more. At Zinnia Healing, we offer many treatment options designed to help you overcome any substance abuse disorder. You can contact our alcohol and drug addiction hotline at (855) 430-9439 to learn more about our rehab programs.