Purpose: Alcohol consumption has been shown to contribute to a favorable lipid profile, and most studies have reported a reduction in coronary heart disease risk with low-to-moderate consumption of alcohol that is generally attributed to the beneficial effects of alcohol on lipids. The influence of different types of alcoholic beverages on plasma lipid levels has been investigated to a lesser extent and in limited populations. Methods: We investigated the effect of overall alcohol consumption, as well as the type of alcoholic beverage consumed, on multiple lipid measures in the large bi-ethnic population of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study. Results: We found both low-to-moderate and heavy alcohol consumption, regardless of the type of alcoholic beverage consumed, to result in significantly greater levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, HDL3 cholesterol, and apolipoprotein A-I in both white and African-American males and females. Associations with other lipid measures contrasted between whites and African Americans, with greater levels of alcohol consumption resulting in significantly greater triglyceride levels in African Americans. Conclusions: Our results confirm previous studies associating alcohol consumption, regardless of beverage type, with greater HDL cholesterol levels, with additional consistent associations detected for the major HDL cholesterol density subfraction, HDL3 cholesterol, and the major HDL cholesterol structural apolipoprotein, apolipoprotein A-I.
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