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The 2008-2009 holiday season has officially gotten underway. Beginning with Thanksgiving, and all the way through Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day, the 2009 Inaugural festivities of President-elect Barack Obama, and Super Bowl celebrations, many Americans will be surrounded by alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine, and a variety of whiskeys, during this season.

The best advice is ‘if you don’t drink, then don’t start’, as the temptation to over consume alcohol is tremendous. Be prudent and be mindful of the amount of alcohol ingested during this time.

Studies recommend drinking one 8-oz glass of red wine per day. This small amount of alcohol protects the heart by raising HDL (good cholesterol) and reducing plaque accumulations in the arteries. On the other hand, drinking more than three alcohol drinks per day has a direct toxic effect on the heart. Heavy drinking, particularly over time, can damage the heart and lead to high blood pressure and alcoholic cardiomyopathy (enlarged and weakened heart).

Protect your heart and your health during this holiday season. Limit your alcohol consumption to one-half ounce per day, which amounts to: one 12-ounce bottle of beer, or one 4-ounce glass of wine, or a one 1/2-ounce shot of 80-proof spirits, as each of these contain the same amount of alcohol.

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