Is There Any Truth to the Claim that Wine is Good for the Heart?


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On one hand wine is known to be immensely beneficial for several organ systems but on the other hand it is also hard to overlook the fact that it does contain alcohol, a cause of many illnesses. The alcohol content of wine varies from brand to brand and from type to type. There is often a confusion whether red wine is more beneficial or white wine.

Studies conducted in the past have proven time and again that red wine contains more number of antioxidants than white wine and is therefore healthier for consumption. This is because the fermentation process of red wine involves the skin of grapes which contains several nutrients, unlike white wine, where the skins are separated before the fermentation process begins. Let us know more about some of the heart friendly benefits which can be obtained from regularly consuming red wine in controlled quantities.

Effect on the cardiovascular system

Red wine is considered to be healthy for the heart since a long time. The process of fermentation of red wine uses the skin of red or dark grapes which contain plenty of antioxidants. These antioxidants help neutralize the effect of harmful free radicals in the body, which are known to cause a number of diseases. The antioxidants help increase the levels of High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in the body which is often referred to as the 'good' cholesterol. It also prevents and slows down 'bad' cholesterol or Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) build ups which lead to heart blockage.

Polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, present in red wine may shield the cell layers on the lining of the blood vessels in the heart from damage. Resveratrol in red wine has been linked to reduced risk of blood clots.

Potential side effects of drinking wine

While drinking wine has been linked to several health benefits, it may also give rise to a number of health risks. Alcohol consumption increases the chances of weight gain and obesity which ultimately puts the heart health at risk. If the body is not able to metabolize the alcohol properly, it may lead to seizures, stroke or even heart failure. It is also a cause of high blood pressure and is known to cause serious diseases such as cirrhosis of liver and pancreatitis which can be potentially life threatening.

How much wine is too much wine?

Alcohol metabolization by the body varies from person to person. Generally, men have a larger capacity of metabolizing alcohol than women. Men have a higher average body weight compared to women and therefore produce more enzymes necessary for processing alcohol. This capacity reduces with age. This is why, wine intake for women should be limited to one drink per day while men can take at most two drinks a day. Senior citizens should limit their wine consumption to one drink per day.

Who should not drink wine?

People with a history of liver diseases or those on immunosuppressants should totally avoid alcohol. For individuals with a family history of cardiovascular diseases and those who have already suffered a stroke, it is advisable to avoid wine as much as possible.

The consumption of wine has been linked to both benefits and risks for the heart health. Rational thinking and awareness about the condition of one's body is the key factor in determining whether an individual should consume wine and to which extent. Moderate consumption of wine is advisable for all, irrespective of age or gender.