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The story changes every day. Red wine is good for your heart! Drinking alcohol reduces your life expectancy and can result in addiction!

All these mixed messages about the benefits of wine can be confusing. It can lead people to overconsume alcohol thinking they’re improving their health. Alternatively, it can leave some feeling wary of red wine.

So, what is the link between red wine and heart health? Let’s break down the latest research and get to the bottom of it, once and for all.

The Red Wine And Antioxidant Connection

Many news stories and magazine articles proclaim that red wine is good for you. Wine, especially the type made from red grapes, is rich in antioxidants, called polyphenols. Polyphenols have shown promising benefits in regard to:

  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Blood pressure
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Chronic diseases
  • Certain cancers
  • Inflammation

It certainly sounds like we should all be drinking red wine. But that’s only half the story. Studies that research the effects of polyphenols usually list a whole range of foods and beverages.

One study done with women aged 50 to 69 found that coffee and tea accounted for 78 percent of polyphenols consumed. The top 20 other foods, including wine, only accounted for 22 percent.

Studies like this show that red wine may be a source of these wonderful antioxidants, but it’s not the only one. Coffee, tea, berries, oranges and a host of other fruits and vegetables also contain polyphenols. But red wine tends to get the most media coverage because it’s more exciting.

Red Wine And Heart Health

There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding red wine and heart health, specifically. The findings originally came from animal studies with mice. The research showed the undeniable cardiovascular benefits of red wine on these mice.

But when compared to human studies, the numbers didn’t add up. Human studies on the effects of red wine on heart health were varied. Some groups saw positive changes, while others saw no effect.

Age, sex, diet and lifestyle were some of the factors that influenced the degree of benefits. Modern research comes down to this: red wine may be beneficial for your heart, but more human studies are needed.

The Bottom Line

Drinking wine every day isn’t a miracle solution for heart health. The key is simply a good diet! Healthy, balanced consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins will go much further than red wine.

Of course, if you enjoy alcohol, red wine is possibly the healthiest choice! So don’t be afraid to have a glass now and then. But we wouldn’t recommend starting to drink wine for heart health if you’re not usually a drinker.

Alcohol does have its downsides, after all. Heavy alcohol use actually increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Not only that, but numerous studies have linked certain cancers to binge drinking.

The recommended maximum amount of alcohol for women is a single drink, approximately a five-ounce glass of wine. Men can have up to two drinks or ten ounces of alcohol. People who have chronic illnesses or take certain medications shouldn’t drink at all.

Red Wine: Part Of A Healthy Diet?

The best resource for nutritional facts and healthy living is your physician. They know your medical history, as well as your current health status, in detail.

Red wine and heart health can be a confusing cocktail. If you’re unsure whether it’s a good option for you, talk to your physician.

Need a doctor? Check the Brown & Toland Physicians network. We specialize in connecting physicians and patients. With more than 2,700 physicians and 355,000 patients in the Bay Area, we’ve got you covered.


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If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately, call your doctor, or go to the emergency room/urgent care.