There has been much news coverage about red wine in moderation being good for the heart. Findings from a study published last month in the journal Circulation Research show that going with non-alcoholic red wine may be even better in some cases.
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A study of 70 men conducted in Spain found that non-alcoholic red wine was more effective than its alcoholic equivalent at reducing blood pressure for these men who were at high risk for developing heart disease.
“This small study suggests a possible mechanism for the finding that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with reduced risks of death and cardiovascular events,” says heart surgeon Marc Gillinov, MD. “However, it is premature to claim that any sort of alcohol—or red wine extract–exerts a long-term health benefit.”
Researchers of the study say the health benefits of red wine come from polyphenols, which are antioxidants that also have anti-inflammatory properties. Polyphenols are in the non-alcoholic part of red wine. In the study, both the red wine with and without alcohol contained equal amounts of polyphenols.
The researchers linked polyphenol levels to an increase in the men’s levels of nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels. Nitric oxide then lowers blood pressure and allows more blood to reach the heart and organs. In the study, it turned out that the men drinking the non-alcoholic red wine had lower blood pressures than those drinking the red wine with alcohol.
Dr. Gillinov says more research needs to be done. He adds, “Most research today supports the notion that moderate alcohol consumption can be part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. But at this point we can’t promise that a daily glass of red wine, or non alcoholic red wide, will keep you out of the cardiac operating room.”
Healthy eating and fitness habits remain the best way to keep heart problems at bay.
Watch this video from Dr. Gillinov on alcohol and your heart health