A glass or two of wine per day may increase the amount of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids in a person's blood, suggests a new study from Catholic University in Campobasso, Italy.
In this new study, 1,604 adults between the ages of 26 and 65 from Italy, Belgium and England were asked about their drinking and eating habits. Blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids were measured and linked to differences in alcohol consumption.
Overall, people who drank wine in moderation (one 5-ounce glass per day for women, two for men) had higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids - even when intake of omega-3 rich fish was taken into account.
These higher blood levels of omega-3 were not seen in those who favoured beer or spirits suggesting that wine, in particular, may affect the body's metabolism of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids - from oily fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel - protect the heart by lowering triglycerides (blood fat) and reducing inflammation, among other benefits.
These new findings may explain why wine drinking in moderation has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
Wine also contains antioxidant compounds called polyphenols that may play a role in keeping the heart and blood vessels healthy, say nutrition researchers.
Looking for ways to improve your heart health through the foods you eat? Check out how you can work one-on-one with Leslie Beck, RD, author of Heart Healthy Foods for Life.
This study will be published in the January 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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