Alcohol consumption is closely related to an increased risk for heart disease, and triglyceride levels…
High Cholesterol and Alcoholism
Having high cholesterol, or high LDL levels, is so common that it almost seems inevitable and unavoidable. But high cholesterol is only a problem due to certain lifestyle choices, including alcohol consumption. Reigning in excessive low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol levels is possible by making a few changes in your life, and doing so can have a profound impact on your overall heart health.
As it happens, alcohol is a cholesterol-free substance. But this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t affect your overall cholesterol levels and the health of your heart. Let’s explore the link between high cholesterol, LDL levels and alcoholism.
Types of Cholesterol
The human body naturally produces all the cholesterol it needs, but additional sources come from the food we eat. Total cholesterol levels are calculated from the ratio of HDL levels, LDL levels and triglyceride levels found in the bloodstream. HDL is the “good” cholesterol that tempers the effects of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, which is responsible for forming a plaque on the arteries and greatly increasing the risk of heart disease.
But triglycerides are the immediate cause of concern when it comes to alcohol consumption and cholesterol. Triglycerides are fats that are found in the bloodstream, and too many triglycerides can also increase your risk of having a heart attack.
Alcohol, Cholesterol and the Cardiovascular System
Alcohol is an inherently toxic substance that your body works hard to get rid of. Many different chain reactions occur in your body when you drink alcohol, and one thing that happens is a spike in triglycerides.
One possible explanation for this spike is that the body stops metabolizing other calories or substances in order to swiftly process the poisonous alcohol. Triglycerides are calories that the body isn’t quite ready to digest yet, and these fat cells are ultimately stored away for later use. Thus, when you are drinking alcohol, your body begins to rapidly convert calories to triglycerides in order to “deal with it later,” after the alcohol has been processed through your system.
Your blood pressure also increases immediately after drinking alcohol. Both the increase in triglycerides and the increase in blood pressure are of serious concern because they lay the foundation for heart disease, including a heart attack and heart failure. Binge drinking in particular can put great strain on the cardiovascular system.
In short, the pressing question isn’t regarding high LDL levels, per se, but with the often-forgotten third component of cholesterol: triglycerides. High triglycerides, along with high LDL levels, should be avoided whenever possible.