Red wine in moderation has long been considered good for the heart, mainly by increasing high-density lipoprotein (the ‘good’ cholesterol) and because it contains flavonoids from grape skin.
Flavonoids are antioxidant substances that protect the heart and blood vessels from the damaging effects of oxygen free radicals produced by our bodies. One of these in particular, called resveratrol, seems to reduce low-density lipoprotein (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and some research has shown that resveratrol can lower artery inflammation and blood clotting.
Resveratrol levels are higher in red wine than in white wine, as it’s fermented longer with the grape skins. However, research hasn’t yet proven that it reduces heart disease. It’s possible that red wine is no better than any other form of alcohol and there’s been some recent evidence that beer may be good for heart health.
You shouldn’t start drinking alcohol just for these possible heart health benefits. Alcohol has calories, can raise blood pressure when consumed excessively and can be addictive, so make sure you consider when making your diet and lifestyle choices. Peanuts, blueberries and cranberries all include resveratrol, and resveratrol supplements are available—however, your body can’t absorb most of the resveratrol in them, so save your money.
Besides, eating grape skin and drinking grape juice provides a similar a dose of resveratrol and other antioxidants to drinking a glass of red wine, although it’s perhaps not as enjoyable.
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