Red Wine, Your Heart and Heart Disease
Observational studies have shown lower risk of cardiovascular events in patients who regularly drink red wine. Several studies have posited that red wine has protective antioxidant properties from compounds like resveratrol, quercetin and proanthocyanidine. These antioxidants may reduce oxidative stress and even protect the lining of your arteries. However, there is debate as to whether there are enough of these antioxidants in a glass of wine or two to make a difference.
Since these early observations, several studies have suggested that, while there could be some benefit in the grape, it may be just the alcohol that confers these benefits. Indeed, Males who have two drinks a day and women who have one drink had a heart disease risk reduction of 30 to 50%. This benefit was enjoyed regardless of the type of alcohol being consumed.
1 drink = 12 ounces of beer; 5 ounces of wine or 1 ounce of liquor
Alcohol consumption (in moderation) has also been attributed to other benefits including:
- Raising “good cholesterol,” the HDL
- Blood thinning effects and
- Lowered blood pressure in certain patients. (others may find that their blood pressure may increase by drinking alcohol)
- Alcohol assists in the absorption of the B vitamin, folate
Still, the American Heart Association does not recommend alcohol to reduce the risk of heart disease. This is, in part, because of some of its risks including:
- Some cannot drink in moderation
- Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to bodily harm or death of yourself and others
- Genetic factors may predispose someone for alcoholism
- Younger patients may have a greater likelihood of alcoholism with a lower cardiac benefit
- Alcohol may increase the risk of certain cancers of the colon and breast
Whether alcohol should be a part of your daily routine lies mostly in preference and case-by-case evaluation with your physician. For those that decide to use alcohol in a therapeutic way, it seems that the greatest benefit is enjoyed when the alcohol consumption is regular and with meals. Combine this with the heart-healthy Mediterranean Diet for maximal effect. Ultimately, however, moderation is the name of the game – patients should follow the instructions of their physicians or cardiologists.