There is good news when it comes to moderate alcohol consumption and its effects on your cholesterol levels.
According to most research studies, a moderate alcohol intake (one or two drinks maximum of alcohol per day) is associated with less risk of heart disease. This applies to all forms of alcohol and not simply to red wine, as is often believed and is due to the fact that all types of alcohol reduce the level of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood. Alcohol also raises the HDL (good) cholesterol, which could play a role in protecting against heart disease.
One research paper even goes as far to say that any amount of alcohol consumption is good for improving your cholesterol. This paper survey 4860 middle-aged men in Caerphilly (South Wales) and Speedwell (Bristol) and found that alcohol consumption was directly related to increased levels of HDL cholesterol. The research also showed that the alcohol you drank the more "good" HDL cholesterol increased – regardless of age, smoking habits, body weight, "bad" cholesterol or other levels of fats in the blood.
But (unfortunately), this paper is a lone voice in the research on alcohol and cholesterol and I would not hold too much faith in its results!
This is because it was based on surveys and the majority of people tend to exaggerate, under estimate or are really mistaken about their own health habits when it comes to someone "official looking" standing in front of them with a clip board (or it may just be me that fibs when it comes to surveys!). The majority of papers show that too much alcohol can raise blood pressure, damage the liver, cause strokes, enlarge the heart, cause arrhythmias and start having an adverse effect on overall cholesterol (and health).
Fortunately, the old adage of "a little of what you fancy does you good" still holds true for alcohol and if you stick to 2-3 drinks 2-3 times a week you will not go far wrong!