Women who drinking two glasses of wine per day are improving the health of their blood vessels, say Spanish researchers in a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
In this sutdy, 35 women who regularly drank wine spent four weeks on a heart-healthy, but wine-free diet. Then, they crossed over to four weeks on a similar diet that included wine at lunch and dinner. At the end of each four week diet, the women were tested for levels of key markers of inflammation in the blood.
Inflammation is one way the body responds to stress or injury. For instance, a chronic stress the to body - like smoking or obesity - would cause constant, low-level inflammation. It appears that inflammation also makes cholesterol deposits on arterial walls more prone to rupture, thereby triggering a heart attack.
Researchers found that blood levels of specific markers of inflammation (such as C-reactive protein) decreased after four weeks on the diet that included wine. Levels of "good" HDL cholesterol also rose after four weeks of having wine with meals. Drinking red wine had more pronounced benefits than white wine.
Numerous studies have found that red wine drinkers have lower rates of heart disease. Scientists believe the heart benefits of red wine over white are related to its higher polyphenol content. Polyphenols are plant compounds that act as antioxidants to help reduce inflammation.
In Canada, women are recommended to have no more than seven alcohol drinks per week. One drink is equal to half a glass (5 oz.) of wine, one glass of beer (12 oz.) or one shot (1.5 oz) of hard liquor.
According to the Canadian Public Health Agency, heart disease is the number one killer of women over the age of 55. Click here for more information on how to use nutrition to help prevent heart disease.
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