It's summer and that usually means cold beers, chilled white wines and icy cocktails, and there have been numerous stories linking some alcohol is good for our heart.
But alas, new evidence has shown that such drinks don't have any heart health benefits and aren't recommended as part of a heart-healthy eating pattern.
If you do drink alcohol, the latest Australian alcohol guidelines recommend that healthy women and men drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than four standard drinks on any one day. In a nutshell? The less you drink, the better (for your heart, mind and wallet).
Now without being the fun police, the Heart Foundation has pulled together some helpful information so you can make some informed choices and consider alternatives before you reach for the bottle.
One standard drink has 10 grams of alcohol, regardless of the type of alcohol or the container it's in. For example, 30ml of spirits is one standard drink, as is 100 ml of wine (roughly half a glass).
Every packaged alcoholic product sold in Australia must be labelled with the number of standard drinks it contains, but it can get a little trickier when you're out at a restaurant. For example, wine glasses can come in so many different sizes - some can even hold at least two standard drinks!
Get familiar with standard drink sizing and remember to check the label on packaged products. The Australian Government's standard drinks guide is a great place to start.
Sadly, no. If you do drink, especially more than the recommended limit, focus on the loads of benefits you'll experience when you cut back on the booze. In addition to reducing your risk of heart disease, you'll sleep better, and your concentration and memory will improve. We also know drinking alcohol can make people feel anxious or depressed, so cutting back can help improve your mental health as well.
If you've been diagnosed with a heart condition, the latest research suggests you've got a lot to gain when it comes to cutting back on alcohol.
For individual advice, it's best to speak with your doctor or cardiologist.
Next time you're arranging a catch up with friends, why not give one of these ideas a go?
While drinking alcohol doesn't have any health benefits, for adults who do drink, there's growing interest in alternative products that are lower in alcohol. Remember to check the nutrition information panel on these products, as some are high in kilojoules. You can also ask an Accredited Practising Dietitian to help you find the right choice for you.
Keep in mind some of these alternative products are often marketed to women and can create what's called the 'health halo'. This is where one feature (like low sugar) can mislead people into thinking what they're drinking is healthier in other ways too - like containing less alcohol, even when it doesn't. Some experts have also suggested the alcohol industry is using non-alcoholic products to promote their brands to young people and kids.
It's not new news that water is your number one go-to when it comes to heart-healthy drinks. If you're looking for ways to make your water more exciting, why not try adding a twist of flavour by adding a sprig of mint or rosemary, or some slices of cucumber or oranges, or even a handful of berries?
If you like the sensation of some bubbles, sparkling water may be an option - but just remember it is carbonated and while your heart may thank you, a number of Australian dentists have posted blogs on their websites (just look at the Google hits about it) saying it may pose a minor risk to your teeth.
Yep, it's true that some types of fermented drinks like kombucha (a fermented tea drink), ginger beer and kefir (a fermented milk drink) can sometimes contain small amounts of alcohol. This will vary though depending on the microorganisms and how long the drink has been fermenting for.
It's important to check the nutrition label on these products, especially if you're trying to stay away from the booze altogether (like if you have a heart condition).
Absolutely - the less you drink, the lower your risk of harm. Give one (or all) of these tips a go...
For more information, visit our heart-healthy drinks webpage or speak to your doctor for advice and support to reduce your alcohol intake.
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