Image: The latest on alcohol's body benefits
Plamen Petkov  /  CondeNet
After years of flip-flopping, research seems to be settling in alcohol’s favor.
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updated 11/25/2007 11:31:28 AM ET 2007-11-25T16:31:28

Attention, wine (and beer and martini) lovers: After years of flip-flopping, research seems to be settling in alcohol’s favor.

“The healthiest people do include moderate drinking in their lifestyle,” says Eric Rimm, Sc.D., associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. You can reap alcohol’s health benefits within weeks, and the gains accumulate over time. (Stick to one drink a day, and fewer than seven a week.)

Raise your glass and say cheers….

To your heart!
Moderate drinking seems to raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol, helping reduce the risk for heart disease and possibly stroke, a study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston indicates.

Alcohol also makes blood platelets less sticky, so they’re less likely to form into potential heart-attack-inducing clots.

To your pancreas!
Enjoying a drink a day may help regulate insulin (and, therefore, blood sugar) levels, lowering your risk for type 2 diabetes, according to a study in the journal Obesity. It appears that alcohol can increase cells’ sensitivity to insulin, which in turn allows cells to burn glucose faster and reduce blood sugar levels.

To your joints!
Indulging in three or more spirits a week could protect against rheumatoid arthritis, research presented at the European Congress of Rheumatology in Barcelona suggests. Scientists report that alcohol may dampen inflammation and suppress the body’s immune response that can lead to the often painful condition.

To feeling great all around!
Women who imbibe alcohol of any kind are twice as likely to report better-than-average health than women who don’t drink at all, researchers at the University of Miami in Coral Gables say. One possible reason why: Alcohol often goes hand in hand with making strong social connections, which tend to reduce stress. Now that’s worthy of a toast. ¡Salud!

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