Heart Health: The Red Wine Myth
You’ve probably heard before that a glass of red wine a day can actually improve your cardiovascular health. This information still regularly makes the rounds amongst friends and family, or on the internet. Because it’s rare that an indulgence overlap with a heart healthy decision, it’s understandable that many are thrilled to quickly accept this information as fact. After all, who among us wouldn’t love a guilt free glass of wine? Since the 1980s, red wine has rumored to improve heart health. But the studies on this correlation don’t track reliably, and the truth isn’t black and white.
The Case for Red Wine
Put simply, heart disease is the result of plaque build up in the arteries, blocking blood flow to the heart. Referred to as “The French Paradox,” this phenomenon refers to the lower incidence of heart disease in France, where wine (and fatty foods) are consumed more frequently. There are various health benefits theoretically attributed to red wine starting with the presence of antioxidants. Some studies have suggested that the antioxidants in wine can prevent plaque build up in the artery walls. Similarly, regular light consumption of red wine is speculated to increase insulin sensitivity, which could reduce your risk of coronary heart disease. According to some studies, red wine consumption has the potential to raise your “good” cholesterol, and reduce the formation of blood clots.
All of that said, the key ingredient in wine that produces these supposed benefits is known as “Resveratrol,” and it can be found in other foods such as blueberries and dark chocolate. This suggests that it’s a bad idea to take the risk of alcohol consumption if you’re just looking to boost your heart health. This is even more true when you consider that these health benefits are unproven. Simply put, drinking more alcohol is just more detrimental to your body than helpful. It’s possible that the link between red wine and cardiovascular health, while not completely false, is wishful thinking.
The problem with using red wine as a preventative measure for heart disease is that there are so many better ways to prevent heart disease. Overall, alcohol poses more risks and detriments to your health than any potential benefits. It’s also very easy to consume more than the recommended amount, leading you into completely different health territory. Heavy alcohol use, rather than light, can of course lead to many health issues including liver disease. The Center for Disease Control recommends no more than one drink daily for women and two for men. Even more importantly, their website specifically warns people against drinking to gain potential health benefits. It’s arguably much more productive to focus on unambiguous ways to prevent heart disease, like exercising and sleeping better. Overall, the studies correlating red wine to reduced heart disease are a spotty, mixed bag while the risks associated with alcohol consumption are clear.
Another concern is that the terms “light” and “moderate” in reference to alcohol consumption are quite different culturally and can be vague enough for the general public to misconstrue. In fact, the guidelines for alcohol consumption vary greatly between countries. Suggesting to the general public that wine drinking is healthful could be very misleading and difficult to control. Many would manipulate this information to suit their desires. Not to mention it is now more commonly believed that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, it may be comforting for people to believe that their glass of wine with dinner is reducing your cardiovascular risk down the line. But many may take the limited available information supporting this theory and wind up completely misguided. It’s safer and healthier to take other measures to improve your cardiovascular future through stress reduction, sleep habits and regular exercise. Instead, talk to your doctor about what you can do to improve your cardiac health. You can make an appointment at https://www.cvgcares.com/ today.