Counting alcohol units this Christmas time – Healthy Heart Tip


Heart Research UK Healthy Heart Tip, written by the Health Promotion and Education Team at Heart Research UK

Healthy Heart Tip: Mulled Wine & Cider – Counting the units

Studies have shown 61% of the UK’s population over-indulge in alcohol over the festive season, more than they usually do. Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of heart disease. How much is too much? How do you know how many units of alcohol you are consuming? We’re providing some guidance on understanding alcohol units and keeping track of how much you are drinking this Christmas.

What are alcohol units and ABV?

Alcohol units represent the quantity of pure alcohol contained within an alcoholic drink (1 unit is 10ml of pure alcohol). The number of units of alcohol in your drink depends on the size and the strength of your drink. ABV means ‘alcohol by volume’ and this is a measure of the amount of alcohol as a percentage of the total volume of a drink.

Calculating your units

You can find the ABV on the labels of cans and bottles. To calculate the number of units in a drink, multiply the ABV by the volume (in ml) and divide by 1000.

      • ABV x volume (ml) ÷ 1000 = units
750ml (ABV 13.5%) =

10 units

1 pint (568ml) (ABV 5.2%) =

3 units

25ml (ABV 40%) =

1 unit

The drinks you pour at home may be larger than the amount measured out in pubs. You could try using a measuring cup when pouring drinks at home so you can keep track of what you are drinking.

How much is too much?

For men and women, the maximum recommended alcohol units each week is 14, spread over 3 or more days. If you are pregnant, it is recommended that you do not drink alcohol at all.

Try recording how much you are drinking over a week using a diary or alcohol tracker.

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