We attended a party recently where the newly married hosts touted the benefits of red wine. It seems that the groom had been living with high cholesterol for many years and now, after six months of marriage, his cholesterol is normal – without medication. The miracle? The bride says that it’s the red wine. Before the happy couple met, the bride was a red wine drinker and the groom a total abstainer. As she puts it, “I told him right away I was not giving up my red wine!” So beat ‘em or join ‘em? He joined.
We’ve all heard about the heart healthy benefits of red wine, but what are they and are they real? While we’re not medical professionals, we’ve done a bunch of research on the subject. It seems that the antioxidants in red wine may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of good cholesterol and protecting against artery damage and blood clots. Antioxidants in red wine are called polyphenols. One polyphenol that is constantly in the news is resveratrol, which is the strongest antioxidant found in nature.
The resveratrol in red wine comes from the skins of grapes used to make the wine. While all wine – red, white and pink contain some resveratrol, red wine has the most because the wine is fermented with the grape skins, which remain in longer contact with the juice than a white or blush wine.
You can also get the benefits of resveratrol by taking resveratrol supplements or eating foods that contain some of this power antioxidant, such as blueberries and cranberries – and even dark chocolate.
Resveratrol has also been linked to the French Paradox – the general observation that the French population tends to consume a good bit of red wine and foods high in fat (cheese, butter and creamy sauces) yet maintains relatively low levels of cardiovascular diseases.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some research does verify that resveratrol is linked to a reduced risk of inflammation and blood clotting, both of which can lead to heart disease. But they say that more research is needed since most research has been done on animals, not people.
While we’ve been doing our own research over many years, we can report that we both have healthy levels of good and bad cholesterol. Whether we were just born with good genes or it’s actually our wine consumption, we don’t know. But just in case…we continue to raise our glasses of red wine and offer a toast to its many benefits!
Barbara and Beverly