Eating Well

Drinking: The Good, The Bad, More Good, And The Ugly

Without even mentioning New Year’s resolutions, let’s cut to the chase: Is drinking good or bad for our health? Happily, the Harvard School of Public Health’s Nutrition Source has a few things to say about that. The big answer, as is often the case, is “it depends,” and in this case it depends on who’s drinking and how much. For most moderate drinkers, the Nutrition Source reports, alcohol has overall health benefits (Good). While moderate drinking can boost the risk of colon and breast cancer (Bad), these risks are trumped by the boost in cardiovascular health (Good) That equation becomes particularly relevant in middle age, when heart disease begins to account for an increasingly large share of disease and deaths. And now the ugly: the definition of moderate drinking. For women, it’s up to one drink per day; for men, it’s up to two drinks per day. What’s considered a drink? A general guideline is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of hard liquor, such as vodka or whiskey. Cheers.

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