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Red wine and Antioxidants: Good for your heart?

redwine-heath

Most of us have heard that a glass of red wine a day is good for us, but why is it good for us? Red wine contains antioxidants and can potentially help improve your lipid profile. To get a better understanding let’s look at antioxidants. This is a type of chemical that blocks free radicals. A free radical is another chemical which can potentially damage cells or possibly cause cancer. So, clearly, having lots of antioxidants is a good thing.

Now, lipids are simply different forms of fats. Our body needs certain fats to thrive, but too much or too little or having the wrong kind can cause our health to falter. A lipid profile is a screen test that doctors frequently use to determine your risk for cardiovascular disease. We want to screen for this, and screen often, because cardiovascular disease is currently the leading cause for death in America.

So what does this have to do with drinking red wine? Well, one of the things our lipid profile tells us is how much cholesterol we have, both the good and bad kinds. Red wine, in moderation, has been shown to boost a person’s good cholesterol (or HDL) count and reduce its bad cholesterol (or LDL), which can stave off heart disease. In fact, there is enough data that it is reasonable to believe people who drink one to two glasses a day may actually have healthier hearts than someone who abstains!

What is another thing that red wine can help prevent? The risk for blood clots can be reduced as the alcohol reduces the level of proteins that cause clot formation. This is all excellent news for someone who enjoys a fine wine with their evening meal.

However, there are some precautions one should consider when indulging in this heart healthy habit. For starters, too much wine consumption can actually increase your risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. It is recommended that men consume no more than two 4-ounce servings and women consume no more than one 4-ounce serving.

So, which type of red wine should you consider drinking? The darker the grape used in making the wine, the higher anti-oxidant content it will have overall. Both Cabernet and Merlot are dark red wines, but they are not made equal. Cabernet Sauvignon grape which is darker and has a much higher antioxidant count than the Gironde-Bordeaux region grapes that make Merlot. So, the next time you choose to drink to your health, consider raising a glass of Cabernet!

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Gail September 22, 2015, 4:00 pm

    I have heard over the years that a small amount of alcohol each day can be beneficial for heart health. Red wine seems to get the most press for being the drink of choice but I had never considered that there would be a difference in the level of antioxidants from different types of red wine.

    Along with antioxidants, red wine also has resveratrol which is a natural compound found in the skin of red grapes (as well as blueberries). It would make sense that this would also be higher in wines which were made from darker grapes. That glass of Cabernet is sounding better and better all the time.

    A glass of red wine enjoyed before or with dinner is a really nice ritual to have. I don’t always limit myself to just one glass but I do like knowing that the first glass at least is for my heart.

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