Everyday we learn more about heart disease. Not only do we know more about what causes it, we also know more about what prevents it. Red wine is one of those nice little surprises that is believed to possess heart healthy benefits. Rich in antioxidants and flavanoids, it’s generally accepted that red wine increases levels of high-density lipoprotein – also known and HDL or "good" cholesterol, and reduces levels of low-density lipoprotein – also known as LDL or "bad" cholesterol. While you won’t find your doctor writing a prescription for it, the end result of drinking red wine is fewer blood clots, less damage and blockage to blood vessels, which all equates to a lower risk of heart disease. Or, does it?
One of the risk factors for heart disease is high blood pressure. Unfortunately for wine lovers, alcohol consumption of any kind – beer, wine, liquor – increases your risk of high blood pressure. So, what’s the key? Should you drink wine and protect your heart? But, wait--if you drink wine and raise your blood pressure, did you just undo all the good to your heart? Talk about confusing!
According to a survey conducted by the American Heart Association, or AHA, you’re not alone in your confusion. The survey examined the perceptions of 1,000 adult Americans to see what they really knew about wine consumption. The AHA survey found that most people – 76 percent – believed drinking wine was good for your heart. Unfortunately, the majority of people – 70 percent – had no idea how much wine consumption was too much. The fact that only 30 percent know how much wine they can safely consume highlights the need for education. Education is especially important because 73 percent of all surveyed reported that they regularly consume wine.
So, how much is too much? What can you safely consume? As with all things, moderation is the key. The AHA recommends the following:
• Women: one drink per day
• Men: two drinks per day
The AHA considers a drink to consist of four ounces of wine. This allows women to consume four ounces of wine per day while men are allowed to consume eight ounces a day.