Wine lovers, get ready for a buzz kill. A new study has found that drinking two glasses of red wine a day can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease — but only if the alcohol has been removed.
Writing in the journal Circulation Research, Spanish investigators reported on 67 men with several cardiovascular risk factors or diabetes. The men spent three periods of four weeks each, enjoying either non-alcoholic red wine, red wine, or gin with their meals, switching to a different beverage at the end of every phase.
During the month they indulged in regular red wine or gin, the men’s blood pressures showed little or no change. But there was a drop in their blood pressure when they drank the non-alcoholic wine. The dip in pressure was modest — just a few points — but it translated into a 14 percent reduced risk for coronary heart disease and a 20 percent decrease in risk for strokes.
Polyphenols are the antioxidant compounds in red wine thought to bestow its heart-healthy benefits, including reduced blood pressure. However, previous studies haven’t found that drinking red wine corresponds to a drop in blood pressure. Just last year a Dutch study reported that drinking a dairy beverage infused with polyphenols didn’t budge the blood pressures in those with mild hypertension.
Why would removing the alcohol from the wine improve pressure in this particular study? The authors speculate that the virgin wine increased nitric oxide in the bloodstream, a chemical that relaxes blood vessels.
Drinking alcoholic red wine raised nitric oxide slightly and gin, not at all. According to Dr. Franz Messerli, a cardiologist at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York., this could mean that alcohol cancels out some of the good done by the antioxidants.
Read more: ABC News