Alcohol has blood-thinning properties, and red wine in particular contains polyphenols that have beneficial effects on the microbiome, said Dr. Erik Skovenborg, a family doctor and member of the International Alcohol Forum, an international group of scientists who study
alcohol and health. Alcohol also raises HDL cholesterol, often referred to as the “good” kind, though recent studies have cast doubt on it being cardioprotective.
Dr. Skovenborg said the observational data makes it clear that moderate drinking is more than a marker for a healthy lifestyle. “In these studies you have many participants that have all the healthy lifestyle factors,” he said, “and if you add moderate alcohol consumption on top of that, it increases the benefits regarding longer life and fewer health problems.”
Dr. Skovenborg said his general advice to patients who drink is to follow the Mediterranean tradition: Have a little wine with your meals, drink slowly, enjoy it, and don’t drink to get drunk. Exercise regularly, avoid smoking, eat nutritious foods, and maintain a normal weight. “It’s a pattern of things you should be doing, not just one thing,” he added.