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Red wine and chocolate --good for your heart?

 

Mariel Morales is a registered dietitian with Banner Estrella Medical Center.

Question: I’ve heard a lot about wine and its health benefits. Is any kind of wine beneficial, and how much wine should I limit ?

Answer: Research suggests moderate consumption of red wine, such as Merlots, Cabernets or Syrahs, may lower your risk for heart disease, but how it works is not completely clear. Drinking red wine may boost HDL “good cholesterol” and help prevent LDL “bad cholesterol” from forming.

Just so we are clear, it isn’t the alcohol in the wine that provides the health benefits but the antioxidants the wine contains because it is made from grapes. Some of the antioxidants found in red wine, including polyphenols, arthrocyanidins and resveratrol, can also be found in grapes or red grape juice—a non-alcoholic answer to the many benefits of red wine. So if you don’t like wine you can still obtain the health benefits by drinking grape juice.

As for the antioxidants, it is resveratrol that has been demonstrated as the most potent antioxidant. It works with Vitamin C enhancing the benefits of the vitamin and provides an anti-clotting effect that prevents formation of blood clots in the blood vessels. It also has been demonstrated to also have an anti-cancer effect.

If you do like red wine, the recommendation by the American Heart Association is no more than one 5 oz glass of wine daily for women; two 5 oz glasses daily for men.

Just remember that everyone’s lifestyle should include healthy eating habits and physical activity. Both are key components in keeping your heart healthy—a glass of wine is no substitute.

Page Last Modified: 02/22/2010
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