New research continues to clarify what it is about cholesterol that presents danger, and how high-density lipoproteins (HDL, or ?good? cholesterol) can help your heart. As scientists gain a deeper understanding about cholesterol and all of its properties, prevention strategies become more specific and treatments become more targeted. Here are five new reports that might just change the way we think about cholesterol.
Doctors have long observed that people who drink alcohol in moderation have higher levels of HDL than teetotalers, but the reason was never clear. A Harvard study of nearly 2,000 men and women has found that alcohol seems to facilitate the formation of larger particles of both HDL and low-density lipoproteins (LDL, or ?bad? cholesterol). Large HDL particles appear better than smaller ones at fighting off heart disease. Although excess LDL causes heart disease, larger LDL particles appear to be less effective than smaller ones at causing it.
Doctors don?t recommend that you start drinking just to lower your cholesterol levels. But, if you already take a sip or two on occasion, increasing your HDL cholesterol might be one more reason to raise a toast. Just keep your intake to no more than one drink per day if you are a woman, or two drinks if you are a man. One drink is defined as approximately 12 ounces of beer, one-and-a-half ounces of hard liquor, or 5 ounces of wine. More alcohol than that may raise your triglyceride levels and consequently your health risks. Drinking too much alcohol also imposes other health risks such as liver disease and increased risk of certain types of cancer.