You’ve heard about the benefits of drinking red wine, including recent studies that claim red wine improves cardiovascular health.
Scientists and doctors are still trying to understand the connection between red wine and heart health. That means there are a lot of myths about the benefits of drinking red wine. So is drinking red wine actually good for your heart? Let’s separate the myths from the facts.
For more information about heart-healthy practices, contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute.
Red Wine and Heart Health: What You Need to Know
1. Myth: Red wine is an antioxidant.
Fact: It’s true that red wine contains antioxidants, which can improve cholesterol and help you maintain a healthy blood pressure.
You want to make sure, however, you’re not drinking so much red wine that the alcohol counters the protective benefits. If you’re interested in getting more antioxidants in your diet, talk to a dietitian or your doctor about antioxidant-rich foods and supplements.
2. Myth: Red wine lowers cholesterol.
Fact: Keeping your cholesterol within a healthy range is important if you want to reduce your risk of heart disease.
According to a study published in Clinical Nutrition, red wine increases good (HDL) cholesterol. On the flip side, nonalcoholic red wine decreases levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol. LDL levels stayed the same in people who drank the alcoholic red wine, so keep this in mind when you order a glass with dinner.
3. Myth: Red wine lowers blood pressure.
Fact: There’s no definitive evidence that red wine lowers blood pressure. In fact, alcohol actually raises blood pressure. But since alcohol tends to relax people, it may lower your blood pressure slightly — although only for a short period of time, and it won’t help with chronic hypertension. Talk to your doctor about other ways you can lower your blood pressure, like exercising moderately and eating a diet rich in healthy fats.
4. Myth: Red wine reduces your risk for heart attack.
Fact: Red wine and other types of alcohol can immediately increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, according to the American Heart Association. This risk, however, decreases over time. As long as you’re consuming a moderate amount of alcohol (one drink per day for women and two drinks for men), red wine will likely not harm your heart in the long run.
On the other hand, consuming heavy amounts of alcohol, including red wine, can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Consider reducing the amount of alcohol you drink to give your body a break.
5. Myth: Red wine is good for everyone.
Fact: Women and men experience alcohol differently, so they should consume it differently. One glass of wine per day (about 5 ounces) is plenty for women, while men shouldn’t drink more than two glasses (about 10 ounces) a day.
We still don’t really know if red wine is good for heart health. Until there’s more information available, it’s best to drink moderately and talk to your doctor. For information about other heart-healthy practices, contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute.