Moderate drinkers are healthier, thinner, less stressedBecause of healthier lifestyle, not alcohol
A major French study has found that people who drink moderately (one or two glasses of wine a day) are generally healthier than both people who do not drink at all and heavy drinkers.
In fact moderate drinkers score well on a range of health indicators. They have a lower body mass index, lower blood pressure and lower "bad" cholesterol levels. Women moderate drinkers even have smaller waists than other women.
Moderate drinkers also had higher levels of HDL cholesterol, which is the "good" kind that helps keep arteries clear of fat.
Of course it could all just be because they are French! The study looked at the health status and drinking habits of nearly 150,000 French adults.
Although the link between good health and moderate drinking is strong and clear according to the study, this does not in fact mean that drinking wine every day will make you healthier. Researchers suggest that people who drink in this way tend to have a higher social status than either binge drinkers or abstainers, and that this is the reason for the observed difference.
They also tend to exercise more and have better mental health, two factors which play an important part in overall health.
Other studies have found a statistical link between moderate alcohol consumption and lower levels of hear disease. Experts disagree on why this is the case, with some (such as the authors of this new study) claiming it is due to other factors, and some claiming that alcohol can in fact provide a health benefit.
However even the study authors agree that a positive link between alcohol consumption and better heart health cannot be ruled out entirely.
The study was led by Dr Boris Hansel and the Hopital de la Pitie in Paris and is published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
This article was published on Thu 20 May 2010
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