Red wine and resveratrol: are they good for the heart? Resveratrol could be a key ingredient that makes red wine good for your heart.
Red wine, in moderation, has long been considered heart healthy. The alcohol and certain substances in red wine called antioxidants may help prevent coronary artery disease, the condition that leads to heart attacks.
Any relationship between red wine and decreased heart attacks is not fully understood. But part of the benefit may be that the antioxidants in red wine may increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) and protect against cholesterol buildup.
Doctors don't recommend that you start drinking alcohol for heart benefits, especially if you have a family history of alcohol addiction. Too much alcohol can have many damaging effects on your body.
But if you already enjoy a glass of red wine with your dinner, drinking it in moderation seems to help your heart.
How is red wine healthy for the heart?
Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of the heart's blood vessels. A polyphenol called resveratrol is a substance in red wine that has drawn attention for its health benefits. Alcohol itself may have some protective effects when consumed in moderation.
Resveratrol in red wine
Resveratrol might help prevent damage to blood vessels, lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol), and prevent blood clots.
However, studies on resveratrol are mixed. Some research shows that resveratrol might be linked to a lower risk of inflammation and blood clotting, which may reduce your risk of heart disease. But other studies found no benefits of resveratrol in preventing heart disease.
More research is needed to determine if resveratrol reduces the risk of inflammation and blood clotting.
Resveratrol from grapes, supplements, and other foods
The resveratrol in red wine comes from the skins of the grapes used to make that drink. Because red wine is fermented with the skins longer than white wine, it contains more resveratrol.
Just by eating grapes or drinking grape juice, you can consume resveratrol without drinking alcohol. Red and purple grape juices may have some of the same heart benefits as red wine.
Peanuts, blueberries, and cranberries also contain some resveratrol. It is not yet known how beneficial eating grapes or other foods compared to drinking red wine may be for supporting heart health. The amount of resveratrol in food and red wine can vary widely.
There are also resveratrol supplements. Researchers have found no harm in taking resveratrol supplements, but the body cannot absorb most of the resveratrol in supplements.
How could alcohol help the heart?
Several studies have shown that moderate amounts of all types of alcohol benefit your heart, not just the alcohol found in the Red wine. Alcohol is believed to:
- raises cholesterol HDL (the “good” cholesterol)
- Reduces the formation of blood clots
- Helps prevent arterial damage caused by high cholesterol levels LDL (the “bad” cholesterol)
- May improve the function of the layer of cells that line the blood vessels
If you already drink red wine, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, this means:
- Up to one drink a day for women of all ages.
- Up to one drink a day for men over 65.
- Up to two drinks a day for men under 65. The limit for men is higher because they generally weigh more than women and have more than one enzyme that breaks down alcohol.