Resveratrol might be the key ingredient that makes red wine heart healthy.
You try to make healthy food choices and work out at the gym several times a week. Are you negating your efforts with a few sips of wine?
Healthwise, over-indulging is a definite no-no. But what about a glass of wine a few times per week?
Red wine, in moderation, has long been considered as heart healthy.
Red wine has been part of social, religious, and cultural events for centuries. Medieval monasteries believed that their monks lived longer partly because of their regular, moderate intake of wine.
In recent years, science has indicated that there could be truth to these claims.
The alcohol and antioxidants in red wine may help prevent coronary artery disease, which is the condition that leads to heart attacks.
Any links between red wine and fewer heart attacks aren't fully understood. But part of the benefit might be that antioxidants in red wine may increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) and help keep cholesterol build-up at bay.
Doctors don't suggest that you start drinking alcohol for heart benefits, especially if you have a family history of alcoholism. Consuming too much alcohol can have many damaging effects on your body.
But if you already enjoy a glass of red wine with your evening meal, drinking it in moderation appears to help your heart.
In the USA and Europe, moderate consumption of red wine is considered to be:
• 1–1.5 glasses a day for women.
• 1–2 glasses a day for men.
One glass of wine is 5 ounces (oz) or 147 ml of 12-14% alcohol by volume.
Some sources also recommend having 1-2 alcohol-free days each week.
How is red wine heart healthy?
Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart.
A polyphenol called resveratrol might be a key ingredient that makes red wine heart healthy, and alcohol itself may have some protective effects when consumed in moderation.
Resveratrol in red wine
Resveratrol might help prevent damage to blood vessels, reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) and prevent the formation of blood clots.
However, studies on resveratrol are mixed. Some research shows that resveratrol could be linked to a lower risk of inflammation and blood clotting, which can lower your risk of heart disease. But other studies found no benefits from resveratrol in preventing heart disease.
More research is needed to determine if resveratrol reduces the risk of inflammation and blood clotting.
Resveratrol without drinking alcohol
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 white wine, red wine contains more resveratrol.
Just by eating grapes or drinking grape juice might be a way to get resveratrol without drinking alcohol. Red and purple grape juices may have some of the same heart-healthy benefits of red wine.
Blueberries, cranberries and peanuts also contain some resveratrol.
However, it is not yet known how beneficial eating grapes or other foods with resveratrol might be compared with drinking red wine when it comes to promoting heart health. The amount of resveratrol in food and red wine can differ greatly.
Resveratrol supplements also are available. Researchers haven't found any harm in taking resveratrol supplements, but your body can't absorb most of the resveratrol in supplements.
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