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Red Wine: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

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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. May is High Blood Pressure Awareness Month so may sure you pass the guidelines along to a friend.

Mary Kyle is a freelance writer, editor, and project manager. She has a Master’s degree in Legal Studies and is a certified Project Management Professional. She has two children’s books to her credit and has authored or co-authored hundreds of articles. A songwriter and musician, she is a member of several bands and performs regularly.

Most Americans don’t understand health effects of wine and sea salt, survey finds, American Heart Association, http://www.newsroom.heart.org/index.php?s=43&item=1316

Red wine and resveratrol: Good for your heart?, Mayo Clinic, 04 Mar 2011, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/red-wine/HB00089

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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