Triglycerides are a form of fat that is found widely in food and used by the body to store calories, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Triglycerides are closely related to cholesterol in form and function, and high triglycerides can similarly increase the risk of heart disease. Understanding the role of diet and lifestyle choices, including the impact of beer consumption, can be a key to maintaining healthy triglyceride levels.
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High triglycerides are a concern because they may cause the arteries to harden and thicken, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. High triglycerides can also be a sign of serious health issues, such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or issues with the thyroid, kidneys or liver. The Cleveland Clinic recommends that adults over 20 have their triglyceride levels measured at least every five years with a simple blood test.
Although medication can often help manage triglyceride levels, lifestyle changes can be a useful complement or alternative to medication. Maintaining a healthy weight, get regular exercise and limit consumption of sugary foods, simple carbohydrates, cholesterol and trans fat. The Cleveland Clinic suggests limiting sugar intake to just 8 percent of daily calories, carefully reading labels to check for sugary ingredients and paying attention to serving sizes. Both institutions also advocate limiting consumption of alcohol, including beer.
Beer and other alcoholic beverages can significantly raise triglycerides. Alcohol is naturally high in calories, and the body converts excess calories into triglycerides, according to High-Triglycerides.com The site cites a number of medical studies indicating that alcohol also decreases the breakdown of existing triglycerides and other fats, and it encourages the liver to produce more triglycerides. Another study referenced on the site found that drinking beer or red wine can lead to elevated blood pressure, which can also be a risk factor for heart disease.
The American Heart Association recommends that people who do not already drink beer or other alcoholic beverages refrain from taking up the habit. Those who choose to drink should do so in moderation. Men should have an average of no more than one or two 12-ounce beers per day, or an equivalent amount of wine or liquor, while women should limit themselves to one drink.
A 2006 study published in the journal "Atherosclerosis" used a mouse model to examine the effects of beer consumption. The study found that beer intake led to higher levels of HDL, or "good" cholesterol, and lower triglyceride levels in the liver. According to the American Heart Association, however, the benefits documented in many studies have seldom been linked clearly and uniquely to alcohol consumption, whereas the risk of significant negative consequences is clear. The association therefore recommends abstinence or moderation in combination with other healthy lifestyle choices.