Recent studies have shown that drinking red wine in moderation can decrease the risk of heart disease as well as providing other health benefits, and it appears the French have taken advantage of these benefits for many years. Despite eating a diet high in saturated fats, the French have 40-percent less Coronary Artery Disease than the rest of the world.
Multiple studies involving thousands of people have demonstrated the health benefits of wine in reducing heart disease.
One study showed that men consuming four to seven glasses of wine per week had a 52-percent reduction in the incidence of prostate cancer.
It appears the health benefits of wine are attributed to the high content of polyphenols – flavonoids and resveratrol:
• Flavonoids are naturally-occurring compounds found in plant-based foods
• Flavonoids can be found in a wide array of foods and beverages such as cranberries, apples, peanuts, chocolate, onions, tea and red wine. More than 4,000 combinations of flavonoids exist
• Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that help prevent the build up of plaque in the arteries, which causes blockages leading to chest pains, heart attacks and sudden death
• Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant that prevents blood from clotting
• Resveratrol raises HDL (good cholesterol) and prevents LDL (bad cholesterol) from being oxidized, which makes it likely to cause blockages in your arteries
The same healthy polyphenols found in wine also can be found in a variety of other foods, including fruits, vegetables and oily fish.
Drink in moderation
Like medications, the correct amount of consumption is important to maximize the health benefits of red wine:
• One serving is only 5 ounces.
• Men can have up to two servings of wine daily
• Women should have only one serving daily
Be cautious — an excess intake of wine may:
• Increase triglycerides — fat in the blood that can promote plaque build up
• Elevate blood pressure and cause weight gain
• Lead to heart failure
• Cause cardiac arrhythmias — irregular heart beats such as atrial fibrillation
• Also, drinking too much wine may lead to liver disease and an increased incidence of certain cancers
What about white wine and grape juice?
Red wines, especially Pinot Noir, have been found to have more levels of Resveratrol than white wines.
However, for those who prefer Pinot Grigio to Pinot Noir, white wine still has a fair amount of other antioxidants. Grape juice has significantly fewer antioxidants than either red or white wine.
Kenneth Bescak, M.D., diagnostic cardiologist, is a physician at the Heart & Vascular Center of Northern Arizona. Dr. Bescak specializes in lipid management, widely considered the leading indicator of heart disease. Is there a health topic you’d like to know more about? Please write to Mountain Medicine, c/o FMC Public Relations, 1200 N. Beaver St., Flagstaff, AZ 86001, or visit FlagstaffMedicalCenter.com.