September 18, 2009

Does Alcohol Cause High Triglycerides Levels

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Triglycerides and alcohol are often mentioned together, but what exactly is this dangerous pair and how does it affect the human body? First let’s look at triglycerides – these are a type of glyceride, which is a chemical compound that is made up of glycerol and fatty acids. Triglycerides have a single molecule of glycerol that is combined with three fatty acids – hence the name. Most of the fat that we digest – vegetable oils and animal fats – is composed of triglycerides. Triglycerides are necessary for our health, as they are an important source of energy and also help to transport fat to various tissues. However, triglycerides also play a major role in disease, particularly heart disease, stroke, and artherosclerosis. It is not clear exactly how triglycerides cause these conditions and to what extent they have an effect, but it is clear that there is an inverse relationship between triglycerides and high density lipoprotein (HDL) bound cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is usually considered to be good cholesterol, because it seems to help protect against cardiovascular disease. Conversely, low levels of HDL cholesterol seem to result in an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

One way in which alcohol consumption affects the levels of triglycerides in the body is the conversion of alcohol into triglycerides. In addition to this direct effect, some research has shown that alcohol indirectly contributes to high triglyceride levels by considerably slowing down fat metabolism in the body. For this reason, it is generally recommended that people with cardiovascular problems should stay away from alcohol completely, or at least drastically reduce consumption. This applies to all alcohol, including beer, but possibly excluding red wine. Studies have shown that red wine has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system, primarily by increasing the amount of HDL cholesterol in the body and reducing the amount of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the body. Still, this is contingent upon the amount of wine that is consumed – a glass a day is considered healthy, but if any more than that is consumed, the risks will outweigh the benefits. This is of course a general recommendation – some people might need a bit less, while others might need a bit more.

The main requirement is of course moderation. Consuming a small amount of any alcohol is unlikely to be any more harmful than any other food or drink, unless you already have a serious health condition. As long as alcohol consumption is not excessive, you should be safe – although abstinence is certainly more advisable.