Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke
Moderate your Alcohol Intake

When most people think about the dangers of alcohol, they think about damage to organs like the liver. But alcohol has a part to play in heart disease and stroke too.

Alcohol contains calories just like food, but has no nutritional value.

Because we cannot store alcohol our bodies must get rid of it, so our bodies make this process a priority.  Therefore, other processes such as absorbing nutrients and burning fat are forced to slow down. 

alcohol, nichs, units

How many calories are in alcohol?



Food equivalent 

3 pints of lager  

546 kcal      

2 Slices of pepperoni pizza

3 bottles of alcopops 

510 kcal 

Large fries

2 pints of cider 

420 kcal       

Chicken fillet burger

2 large glasses of red wine 

450 kcal 

Blueberry muffin

1 vodka and energy drink 

139 kcal

3 biscuits

3 pina coladas

1275 kcal

4 cheeseburgers 


The alcohol we drink is often equivalent to a second meal, but with no added benefit to it. It is no wonder alcohol makes us put on weight!

As well as affecting your weight, if you drink too much, over time this can increase your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Being overweight, high blood pressure and high cholesterol all increase your chances of developing cardiovascular illness.

What are my recommended daily units of alcohol?

There is no completely safe limit for alcohol as everyone’s body is different. Men and women should not drink more than 14 units per week and should also have some alcohol free days each week.

The number of units in a drink depends on the strength and size of the drink, but roughly:

Pint of normal strength beer

2.3 units

Pint of cider

2.6 units

1 measure (35ml) spirits

1.4 unit

Bottle of alcopop

1.1 units

Medium (175ml) glass of wine

2.3 units

Half a bottle of wine

4.7 units

There is some evidence that small amounts of alcohol can protect you from heart disease and stroke but we don’t recommend that you drink alcohol as a way of reducing your risk.