February is Heart Month both in the US and Canada, and unfortunately, most of us know someone who has had heart disease or stroke. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; one in every three deaths is from heart disease and stroke, equal to 2,200 deaths per day. And in Canada, heart disease and stroke take one life every 7 minutes and 90% of Canadians have at least one risk factor. Scary stats indeed and so it seems timely to look at some foods that can indeed help fight heart disease.
tells us about:
Red Wine and Resveratrol
If you drink alcohol, a little red wine may be a heart-healthy choice. Resveratrol and catechins, two antioxidants in red wine, may protect artery walls. Alcohol can also boost HDL, the good cholesterol.
Tip: Don't exceed one drink a day for women; one to two drinks for men -- and talk to your doctor first. Alcohol may cause problems for people taking aspirin and other medications. Too much alcohol actually hurts the heart.
of the Yale-New Haven Hospital shares more important information.
Health Benefits Of Drinking Red Wine:
For over 10 years, research has indicated that moderate intake of alcohol improves cardiovascular health. In fact, in 1992 Harvard researchers included moderate alcohol consumption as one of the "eight proven ways to reduce coronary heart disease risk." However, research has suggested that specifically red wine is the most beneficial to your heart health. The cardioprotective effect has been attributed to antioxidants present in the skin and seeds of red grapes.
Scientists believe the antioxidants, called flavonoids, reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in three ways:
- by reducing production of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (also know as the "bad" cholesterol)
- by boosting high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the good cholesterol)
- by reducing blood clotting. Furthermore, consuming a glass of wine along with a meal may favorably influence your lipid profiles following that meal
Recently, researchers have found that moderate red wine consumption may be beneficial to more than just your heart. One study found that the antioxidant resveratrol, which is prevalent in the skin of red grapes, may inhibit tumor development in some cancers. Another study indicated that resveratrol aided in the formation of nerve cells, which experts believe may be helpful in the treatment of neurological diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Wines That Reap The Most Benefits:
Researchers at the University of California, at Davis tested a variety of wines to determine which types have the highest concentrations of flavonoids. Their results concluded that the flavonoid favorite is Cabernet Sauvignon, followed closely by Petit Syrah and Pinot Noir. Both Merlots and red zinfandels have fewer flavonoids than their more potent predecessors. White wine had significantly smaller amounts than the red wine varieties. The bottom line is the sweeter the wine, the fewer the flavonoids. Dryer red wines are your best bet for a flavonoid boost.
What About Grape Juice & Non-Alcoholic Red Wine?
In 1997, researchers at the University of Wisconsin concluded that purple grape juice also reduced blood clotting. Another study by researchers at University of California at Davis, confirmed the findings that non alcoholic red wine contains the same antioxidant profile as red wine. However in a 1998 study, Japanese researchers found that while grape juice still had antioxidative benefits, it did not significantly lower LDL cholesterol levels compared to red wine.
The debate continues on whether it is the components of the wine, the way the wine is consumed, or the lifestyle traits that is the most responsible for the long healthy lives of many wine drinkers. However, the evidence seems clear that regular, moderate consumption of red wine is beneficial to your health.
Hypertryglyceridemia, pancreatitis, liver disease, uncontrolled hypertension, depression and congestive heart failure are diseases that may be worsened by alcohol. Those individuals at risk for these conditions should consult with their physician before consuming any alcohol at all.
"Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities". ~ 1 Timothy, 5:23