Red wine in moderation has long been thought of as good for the heart mainly by increasing high-density lipoprotein (the “good” cholesterol) and because it contains flavonoids. Flavonoids come from the grape skin and are antioxidant substances that protect the heart and blood vessels from the damaging effects of oxygen free radicals produced by our bodies. One of these in particular, called resveratrol, seems to reduce low-density lipoprotein (the “bad” cholesterol) and some research has shown that resveratrol can lower artery inflammation and blood clotting. However it hasn’t yet been shown to reduce heart disease and more research is needed.
It is possible that red wine is no better than other forms of alcohol such as white wine or spirits and there has been some recent evidence supporting beer in heart health. Of note though resveratrol levels are higher in red wine as it’s fermented longer with the grape skins than white wine is.
You shouldn’t start drinking alcohol just for these possible heart health benefits however. Remember alcohol has calories, can raise blood pressure when consumed excessively and can be addictive so make sure you factor this in when making your diet and lifestyle choices.
Other foods containing resveratrol include peanuts, blueberries and cranberries and there are resveratrol supplements available however your body can’t absorb most of the resveratrol in them so save your money.
Besides, eating grapes and their skin or drinking grape juice provides a similar a dose of resveratrol and other antioxidants as drinking a glass of red wine, although perhaps not as enjoyable.