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Excessive alcohol consumption

You may have heard that alcohol – particularly red wine – is good for your heart.  But drinking too much of any type of alcohol can increase your blood pressure and contribute to the development of heart disease and stroke.

There is some evidence that moderate drinkers have a somewhat lower risk of heart disease and stroke than those who do not drink or who drink excessively.  However, if you really want to have an impact on your heart health, you're better off eating a healthy diet, being physically active by doing moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity for 150 minutes a week, and becoming smoke-free.

If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to no more than:

  • two drinks a day most days, to a weekly maximum of 10 for women.*
  • three drinks a day most days, to a weekly maximum of 15 for men.

“A drink” means:

  • 341 mL / 12 oz (1 bottle) of regular strength beer (5% alcohol).
  • 142 mL / 5 oz wine (12% alcohol).
  • 43 mL / 1 1/2 oz spirits (40% alcohol).

* Do not drink when you are driving a vehicle, taking medications or other drugs that interact with alcohol, pregnant or are planning to be pregnant, making important decisions, doing any kind of dangerous physical activity, living with alcohol dependence or mental or physical health problems, or responsible for the safety of others. If you are concerned about how drinking may affect your health, talk to your doctor.

Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines

If you choose to drink, Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines can help you decide when, where, why and how to reduce your immediate and long-term alcohol-related harm. You should not adjust your drinking habits or begin to drink for health benefits without consulting your health care provider.

Last reviewed: August 2013
Last modified: July 2014