We all love our glass of wine. It pairs well with meals, it helps after a stressful day and it’s nice to sip while gossiping with girlfriends or hanging with your husband. Many of my patients tell me that they drink wine because it’s also good for their cardiovascular system. I decided to do a little research in order to determine if this was real fact or a hopeful excuse for continued enjoyment.
In 2003, University of California, Davis scientists found that red wine (in particular) contained saponins, which are derived from the waxy skins of grapes. Saponins have been found to have cholesterol lowering abilities by interfering with its absorption and attaching to the cholesterol as it passes through the intestinal tract.
In 2005, researchers from the Yale School of Medicine found that red wine has a component to it called polyphenols (flavonoids) which are powerful anti-oxidants. Polyphenols are the same thing found in colorful berries, green tea, and dark chocolate. Anti-oxidants are responsible for cell health by protecting against the free radical attack that promotes aging and disease.
Resveratrol is an anti-oxidant that is all the buzz online and in the media. It is found in small quantities in red wine as it is concentrated in red grapes. Resveratrol has been found to lower inflammation, help damaged blood vessels, and reduce blood clots. Because of its anti-oxidant abilities, it also helps repair free radical attack.
This all sounds wonderful -- so what’s the down side?
Unfortunately, the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute don’t recommend you pick up a red wine habit to protect your ticker or fight free radicals.
Alcohol is full of excess calories and high in sugar which often stops weight loss. This sugar raises triglyceride, glucose, and insulin levels which lead to disease and the spare tire around the middle. Alcohol can lead to high blood pressure, liver damage, aging skin and certain cancers.
The cancers, in question, are estrogen-linked such as breast cancer. Alcohol and estrogen are processed through your liver down a similar pathway.