By Christina | June 5, 2008
Most people would love to find a reason or perhaps an excuse to have a glass of wine on a regular basis. The latest report on red wine says it is, in fact, good for your heart because of something called resveratrol. Red wine is linked especially with reducing the risk of heart disease. While the news about red wine might sound great if you enjoy a glass of red wine with your evening meal, doctors are wary of encouraging anyone to drink alcohol because too much alcohol can have a host of harmful effects on your body.
It is still unclear what about red wine is heart healthy but recent research suggests it is linked to a substance called resveratrol, which is found in the skin and seeds of grapes used to make wine. Resveratrol isn’t the only substance in red wine that looks promising. The alcohol in red wine also appears to be heart healthy.
Because it is the alcohol which is linked to health benefits, it is all types of alcohol, not just what is found is red wine. Some heart-healthy benefits of alcohol include:
- Raises high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol
- Lowers blood pressure
- Inhibits the formation of blood clots Helps prevent artery damage caused by high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol
It is the antioxidants which are being promoted as the reason for the heart benefits in red ine especially. These antioxidants ar called polyphenols and they help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. These antioxidants come in two main forms: flavonoids and nonflavonoids.
Flavonoids are antioxidants which are found in foods such as oranges, 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.
Nonflavonoids are found in red wine have recently been of particular interest because they appear to help prevent arteries from becoming clogged with fatty blockages. Resveratrol is the nonflavonoid that researchers are most interested in.
The resveratrol in red wine comes from the skin of grapes used to make wine. It is simply because red wine is fermented with grape skins longer than is white wine that it contains more resveratrol. 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.
Other foods that contain some resveratrol 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. The amount of resveratrol in food and red wine can vary widely.
The American Heart Association doesn’t recommend that you start drinking alcohol just to prevent heart disease. Alcohol has been linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, high triglycerides, liver damage, obesity, certain types of cancer, accidents and other problems.
Okay, so if you were looking for an excuse to drink this may not be it but it’s good to know if you do enjoy an occassional glass of wine you can toast to your heart.