Heart Health and Red Wine

By Nicole Flanagan

Heart Health and Red Wine

Red wine, in moderation, has long been thought of as heart healthy. The alcohol and certain substances in red wine called antioxidants may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of “good” cholesterol and protecting against artery damage. While this news might sound great if you enjoy a glass of red wine with your evening meal, it’s not a reason for anyone to start drinking alcohol. That’s because too much alcohol can have many harmful effects on your body. Still, there is something in red wine that appears to help your heart, though it’s unclear just exactly what that “something” is. Researchers think antioxidants, such as flavonoids or a substance called resveratrol, have promising heart-healthy benefits. Studies on the heart-health benefits of red wine have reported mixed results. Some studies show that red wine seems to have even more heart-health benefits than other types of alcohol, while other studies show that red wine isn’t any better than beer, white wine or liquor for heart health. There are some studies that suggest that the antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. These antioxidants come in two main forms: flavonoids and non-flavonoids.
Flavonoids. These antioxidants are found in a variety of foods, including oranges, grape juice, apples, onions, tea and cocoa. Other types of alcohol, such as white wine and beer, contain small amounts, too, but red wine has higher levels.
Non-flavonoids. These antioxidants found in red wine have recently been of particular interest because they appear to help prevent arteries from becoming clogged with fatty blockages.
Resveratrol might be another key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces “bad” cholesterol and prevents blood clots. The resveratrol in red wine comes from the skin of grapes used to make wine. Because red wine is fermented with grape skins longer than is white wine, red wine contains more resveratrol. Simply eating grapes, or drinking grape juice, has been suggested as one way to get resveratrol without drinking alcohol. Some studies have suggested that red and purple grape juices have some of the same heart-healthy benefits of red wine. There are other foods that contain some resveratrol which include peanuts, blueberries and cranberries. It’s not yet known how beneficial eating grapes or other foods might be compared with drinking red wine when it comes to promoting heart health because the amount of resveratrol in food and red wine can vary widely.
Red wine’s potential heart-health benefits look promising. Those who drink moderate amounts of alcohol, including red wine, seem to have a lower risk of heart disease. Regardless of the potential benefits of drinking red wine it is not recommend that you start drinking alcohol just to prevent heart disease. Alcohol can be addictive and is associated with other health issues.
Drinking too much increases your risk of high blood pressure, high triglycerides, liver damage, obesity, certain types of cancer, accidents and other problems. If you already drink red wine, do so in moderation. Of course a healthy diet and exercise is always good for you too!

Publishers Note: Since October is Virginia Wine Month you might want to pick up a bottle of Virginia’s finest and sit back and enjoy!

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