The health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption: a review of the literature

Drug Alcohol Depend. 1985 Jun;15(3):207-27. doi: 10.1016/0376-8716(85)90001-8.


A review of the literature on the positive benefits of light and moderate alcohol consumption suggests the following: Alcoholic beverages are food, containing approx. 7 calories per gram of ethanol. Beer contains small percentages of the recommended daily allowance of vitamins and significant proportions of the recommended daily allowance of trace metals and minerals. Wine, while possessing significantly smaller amounts of vitamins and minerals than beer, has considerably more iron. Both beer and wine have a favorable potassium to sodium ratio. Coronary heart disease (CHD) seems to have a negative association with regular alcoholic beverage use. While some report a linear relationship, most studies agree that the relationship is U-shaped. Many studies have suggested that this inverse relationship is due to alcohol's effect of increasing levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), which acts in the removal of cholesterol from tissue. Other explanations for moderate alcohol's cardioprotective effect include: associated diet changes in moderate drinkers, the silicon content in wine and beer, decreased platelet aggregation and coagulation, and the ability to lessen stress and/or alter personality patterns associated with CHD risks. Dry non-sweet wines and diluted distilled spirits have been recommended in the treatment of diabetes. It has been suggested that alcohol may improve glucose tolerance and blood glucose response to ingested carbohydrates. Due to reported decreased HDL values in diabetics, alcohol has been suggested as useful for its HDL-increasing function.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Coronary Disease / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy
  • Energy Intake
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / blood
  • Myocardial Infarction / prevention & control
  • Nutritive Value
  • Risk


  • Lipoproteins, HDL