Red wine in moderation has been shown to be heart-healthy. This is because low dose alcohol and certain antioxidants in red wine (e.g. resveratrol and anthocyanins) may help to increase your HDL or “good” cholesterol and protect against artery damage. While red wine seems to have more heart-healthy benefits as compared to white wine and other types of alcoholic beverages (e.g. beer), the scientific evidence isn’t completely definite. Several clinical studies have provided evidence that moderate amounts red wine seem to lower one’s risk of heart disease. While this news might sound great for those of you who enjoy the occasional glass of red wine with dinner, keep in mind that too much of any alcoholic beverage can be very harmful to your body. Drinking too much alcohol increases your risk of high blood pressure, high triglycerides, liver damage, obesity, and certain types of cancer. In addition, drinking too much alcohol regularly can cause your heart muscle to become weakened (cardiomyopathy), leading to potential heart failure in some people. If you already drink red wine, do so in moderation. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that healthy adults may consume up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. The limit for men is higher because men typically weigh more and have more of the enzyme (alcohol dehydrogenase) that metabolizes alcohol as compared to women. This doesn’t mean you can save all your drinks for a weekend party and get the same benefits.
Just as you shouldn’t eat a 12-ounce steak daily, you need to watch your portion sizes of alcohol as well.
What is one drink?
- 5 ounces of wine
- 12 ounces of beer
- 5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits, such as vodka
Similar heart health benefits have also been shown among individuals who consume 100% Concord grape juice. So you don’t have to start drinking red wine to get the benefits. What’s very clear scientifically is that increased whole fruit and vegetable consumption lowers your risk for heart disease and many other chronic diseases.
Additional information can be found on the American Heart Association’s website (click here).