You’ve seen it in magazines, on the news, and on the web. Red wine is good for your heart. Drink it and you will “slash” your risk of heart disease dramatically…Right?
It all started with the French – we observed over the years their consumption of red wine and also observed their rate of heart disease still remained well below that of America, and we started to correlate the two with each other. There have been multiple studies and loads of research on the topic. So is there at least some truth in red wine’s ability to lower our chance of heart disease? Yes, but it’s benefits are HIGHLY exaggerated and are not enough to warrant starting a new drinking habit.
Here’s what the research says: Red wine is full of antioxidants called polyphenols, specifically one called resveratrol. It’s found in grape juice & white wine as well, but the levels are higher in that of red wine. The stated benefits of red wine consumption include elevating your HDL cholesterol, which is desirable in preventing heart disease. It is also thought to keep the platelets in your blood from becoming “sticky” and clogging your arteries.
There have been many studies toting the benefits of red wine consumption due to the presence of these polyphenols, but what they don’t specify is that the amount of red wine you would have to consume to equal a significant dose of polyphenols is astronomical. Don’t think that’s an excuse to binge drink, however. Excessive alcohol consumption actually increases your risk for elevated triglycerides and high blood pressure, in addition to several types of cancers, cancelling out any benefit you would have received from moderate alcohol consumption.
Red wine consumption is not the only way to raise your HDL (“good”) cholesterol – regular physical activity has an even greater impact, as does the consumption of healthy fats like those found in nuts & seeds.
Furthermore, the American Heart Association does not recommend drinking wine to reap any potential benefits, because with all the research that is out there (and still needs to be done), the cons outweigh the benefits. Maintaining a healthy weight, controlling your blood pressure and following a healthy diet will prove more beneficial to preventing heart disease than a glass of red wine.
So should you continue to drink red wine? I do. I’m a huge fan and I treat myself to a glass or two at least two or three times a week. My favorite is the Red Velvet by Cupcake Vineyards, and I love myself a good glass of Cabernet. But I don’t do it with the expectation that it will be a cure-all\prevent all. If I end up redeeming some of these health benefits, more power to me.
So in conclusion, don’t begin drinking for the proposed health benefits if you do not currently drink. The studies suggesting the health benefits of red wine specify “moderate” alcohol consumption which is equal to one drink a day for women and one to two drinks a day for med.
Realize that the health benefits of wine, while they do exist, are highly exaggerated and nothing to get excited about! The antioxidants in red wine don’t even compare to that of many fresh fruits and vegetables. If you struggle with getting enough fruits & veggies, see my post on juicing 🙂