Raise a glass today to keep the cardiologist away

Who would've thought that enjoying a cold beer on a hot day... relaxing with a nice glass of wine... or even enjoying a little nightcap could be the secret to a healthy heart?

Because the latest research confirms what I've been sharing with you here in eTips for a while now: An occasional cocktail, glass of wine, or beer could lower your risk of heart disease.

A new study just published in the BMJ reveals that drinking in moderation reduces your risk of several life-threatening heart conditions -- especially when compared to not drinking alcohol at all.

Over the course of six years, British researchers analyzed the medical records of nearly two million people around the UK, all of whom were at least 30 years old at the start of the study, and none of whom had prior heart problems.

To the cheers of every Englishman who's ever had a pint in a pub, the results showed that when compared with teetotalers, it was the moderate drinkers who were less likely to be diagnosed with several conditions -- including chest pain, heart failure, stroke, and peripheral artery disease (which reduces the circulation to your arms and legs).

These findings echo what I've shared with you in the past, particularly as it relates to heart health and drinking. We've known that some alcoholic beverages, like red wine, are loaded with antioxidants like resveratrol that are great for your heart; and we've also learned that beer can boost your levels of "good" cholesterol and prevent you from having a heart attack.

But don't start knocking 'em back just yet, because it was the heavy drinkers who were most likely to be diagnosed with these heart conditions as well as with cardiac arrest.

Now, if you've already quit drinking completely, there's no reason to start again. According to the study, drinking again after you've already quit won't improve your heart's health.

But if you don't drink at all... if you always abstain and find yourself toasting with a glass of water... now may be a good time to try a little tipple.

Just don't go overboard by making up for all those toga parties you never went to in college.

According to the experts, moderate drinking means no more than 14 units of alcohol a week. That translates into about five to seven glasses of beer or wine in a seven-day period... and less if you're drinking hard alcohol like whiskey or vodka.