Does red wine make my heart healthy?

There is little better than finding out that something you enjoy that has traditionally been thought of as harmful to health may in fact have health benefits. Hence the interest in what may be a link between moderate red wine consumption and reduced incidence of heart disease. But do not open that bottle just yet. The science on red wine and heart health is far from conclusive at this point.

Research interest on the health benefits of red wine has focused so far on antioxidants, such as resveratrol, which are thought to have a role in protecting arteries, reducing the risk of blood clots and raising levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol -- often referred to as “good” cholesterol. These antioxidants are derived from the skins of the grapes that are used to make the wine.

Studies regarding antioxidants in red wine, however, have been inconclusive. Some research has suggested that the apparent heart health benefits of wine are not exclusive to red wine and might be true for moderate consumption of any alcohol. In that case, it is the alcohol that has heart benefits, not antioxidants. Moderate consumption is typically defined as no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.

The lesson here is, if you drink red wine, drink it only in moderation; it might be good for your heart. If you do not drink, don’t rush to do so based on inconclusive evidence. Drinking more than the recommended amounts of alcohol can actually raise blood pressure and contribute substantially to cardiovascular disease, and it also carries a risk of addiction.
Dr. Robin Miller, MD
Internal Medicine
Red wine has proven health benefits and is low in calories. In this video, I will reveal what makes red wine good for the body.
Maybe. Research shows that that something in red wine may help your heart, though scientists are not sure exactly what that “something” is. It may be the antioxidants, such as flavonoids or a substance called reservatrol that provides heart-healthy benefits. However, other studies comparing different types of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, and spirits) have actually shown no difference to heart health between the different types. Most research does show that alcohol has overall health benefits for most moderate drinkers, but moderation is an enormously important part of the health message. Moderate alcohol consumption for women is up to one drink per day; for men, it’s up to two drinks per day. A general guideline for what is considered one drink; 12 ounces of beer; 5 ounces of wine; and 1½ ounces of hard liquor, such as vodka or whiskey.
There has been a great deal of fanfare about the heart-healthy effects of red wine, but these effects usually are attributed to the antioxidants and resveratrol (an anti-clotting agent) found in varying degrees in red wine. These same agents are found in grape juice and in fresh grapes, too.
Even scientists who have published studied touting the value of alcohol in reducing the risk of heart disease do not recommend that non-drinkers begin drinking to avoid heart disease.
In general, experts recommend the same boring things to help keep your heart healthy: eat heart-healthy foods, reduce your intake of salt and exercise daily.
Neal Spruce
Neal Spruce on behalf of dotFIT
It may help if you eat well and exercise regularly. It has long been thought that red wine confers protective effects against heart disease because of its antioxidant/polyphenol and alcohol content. Red wine is rich in antioxidants such as resveratrol and quercetin, which both have been associated with maintaining heart health. The alcohol and red wine-specific substances, especially the flavonoid resveratrol, may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of "good" cholesterol, reducing inflammation, increasing nitric oxide bioavailability, inhibiting of fat cell proliferation, and protecting against artery damage. While red wine clearly has more antioxidants than other sources of alcohol, there is still no clear evidence that red wine is better for your health than other delivery systems of alcohol because moderate alcohol consumption from any source delivers similar benefits. The heart benefits that may occur with red wine start with just 1 glass a day for women and 1-2 glasses for men. Moderate alcohol consumption is considered 2 drinks/day for men; 1 for women. One drink contains 14 grams of alcohol meaning: one 12 oz beer (5% alcohol), one 5 oz glass of wine (12%) and one 1.5 oz of hard liquor (40% or 80 proof) are each one drink. The down side is that moderate drinking was recently associated with increased risk of breast cancer in women. Additionally, it can lead to excessive drinking. All this said, moderate drinking appears to be part of a healthy diet.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Consuming just one glass of red wine a day for women and two glasses a day for men has been proven to provide a variety of benefits for your heart. If you have high cholesterol, you may have plaque buildup in your arteries, which can cause them to harden. Too much plaque will eventually stop blood flow and can cause a heart attack. Wine reduces cholesterol and inflammation to minimize this risk. It stabilizes the plaque by keeping those pathways open. Because it’s good for your arteries, it also helps to bring oxygen and blood to your skin.
Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics
Red wine seems to have more heart healthy benefits than other types of alcohol. Red wine contains antioxidants -- polyphenols that may help protect the lining of blood vessels in our heart. This said, neither the American Heart Association nor the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends that you start drinking alcohol to prevent heart problems. The recommendation is that if you do drink alcoholic beverages; consider drinking red wine in moderation (1 drink/day for a woman and 2 drinks/day for a man).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.