It’s been said that having a glass of red wine a day can do your heart good, but how true is that? The “French Paradox,” or the idea that red wine is good for your heart, first gained popularity in the 1980s. The idea stemmed from the observation that French people have a relatively low occurrence of cardiovascular disease despite the French diet being rich in fatty foods, including red wine. Hence the idea that red wine and heart health go hand in hand. Electrophysiologist Dr. Monica Lo says that is when people started studying and looking into the association of wine and cardiovascular health.
“There’s a lot of confounding factors,” she says. “It may be better fats (the French) are consuming, and they may walk more. It’s hard to figure out if their better cardiovascular health is because of what they are consuming, exercising or the red wine.”
The Mediterranean diet suggests a glass of red wine, but it is because the diet also requires more healthy living. Part of this diet includes nuts, vegetables, olive oil and good cholesterol. Lo suggests those could be reasons for better heart health and not necessarily the wine itself.
What does research say? Studies are mixed. “There is no hard evidence or a clinical trial that says that wine is beneficial. However, because of the antioxidants in the skin of red grapes, some people say it is.” Dr. Lo explains the antioxidant resveratrol in the grape skin that could lower the risk of heart disease. “However, they’ve seen that in beer so it’s not necessarily grape skin. Studies have also suggested you would have to consume a lot of wine to get the benefit of the amount of antioxidants.” Some suggest that red wine can increase good cholesterol HDL, but exercise can do this as well. So there’s not a causation that drinking wine can help with your heart.
The recommendation remains, drink in moderation, which means one serving (four oz.) per day for women and one to two servings (four-eight oz.) per day for men. “If you drink too much it can have opposite benefits. It can lead to obesity, trigger different arrhythmias and even affect the heart muscle, heart failure, “ she says. “People who don’t drink – don’t start drinking wine just for the benefit of heart health.”
So while red wine and heart health may not be as intricately linked as some believe, there are several other lifestyle choices you can make to improve your heart health. To learn more, check out our heart health tips and follow us to stay in the know.