Red Wine Heart Disease

The antioxidants in red wines have been shown to provide certain health benefits. Antioxidants act like warriors, preventing the oxidation process in which reactive particles known as “free radicals” cause damage to healthy cells. For the moderate drinker, drinking one to two glasses of wine daily, the antioxidants in red wine offer some protection against heart disease.

Heart Disease and Stroke

Studies show that resveratrol has blood-thinning properties. By keeping individual blood cells (“platelets”) from sticking to each other, resveratrol can limit the formation of blood clots. If blood clots form and become lodged in the smaller vessels of the heart or brain, oxygen can be prevented from reaching these vital organs. This lack of oxygen is called ischemia. Severe ischemia in the heart is known as a heart attack or myocardial infarction. Severe ischemia in the brain is called a stroke.

Cholesterol and High Blood Pressure

Another health benefit of resveratrol is its ability to limit the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. The oxidation of LDL is the first step to the production of plaques on the inside of the blood vessels. Plaque is the primary cause of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. New studies show that the antioxidant saponin, also found in red wine, may aid in reducing the levels of LDL cholesterol. Any reduction in the levels of LDL, or in its oxidation, can potentially decrease the build up of plaque.

For additional information on cholesterol, including its connection to plaque-formation, causes of high cholesterol and the difference between LDL and HDL, read more about cholesterol levels.

Preventing Future Heart Attack

Another health benefit of resveratrol is its ability to regulate nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a gas that enables smooth muscles to relax. This relaxation of smooth muscle also occurs in the walls of the blood vessels and allows blood to flow smoothly through the vessel.

The results of a French study of men who had previous heart attacks indicates that the effects of resveratrol, through moderate red wine consumption, may help prevent future heart attacks.

Resources

Goldberg, I. J., Mosca, L., Piano, M. R., Fisher, E. A. (2001, January 23). Wine and your heart [electronic version]. Circulation, 103(3), 472-475. Retrieved September 20, 2003, from circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/103/3/472.

Kris-Etherton, P., Hecker, K. D., Bonanome, A., Coval, S. M., Binkoski, A. E., Hilpert, K. F., Griel, A. E., Etherton, T. D. (2002, December 30). Bioactive compounds in foods: Their role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer. The American Journal of Medicine, 113(Suppl 9B), 71S-88S.

ScienceDaily. (2003, September 9.) New cholesterol fighter found in red wine. Retrieved September 20, 2003, from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030909070840.htm.

Waterhouse, A.L. (1995, May 1.) Wine and heart disease [electronic version]. Chemistry