Is Red Wine Overrated for Heart Health Benefits?

Red wine continues to be the big buzzword in the world of heart health, but is this form of liquor really what it’s cracked up to be, being that alcohol consumption is also associated with certain cancers and liver disease? How could something be so good for coronary arteries, yet if consumed enough, can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer?

I consulted with Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, Director, Women and Heart Disease, Heart and Vascular Institute, Lenox Hill Hospital, NY, to see what she had to say about red wine and heart health.

Dr. Steinbaum explains, “Red wine is filled with bioflavonoids, antioxidants and resveratrol, all which dilate the arteries, prevent clotting, decrease the blood pressure and increase the HDL cholesterol.”

HDL cholesterol is the “good” kind of cholesterol. Dr. Steinbaum continues, “Clearly, red wine is not a ‘magic bullet’ to cure heart disease, but it is part of a heart healthy diet. Other factors that lead to plaque in the arteries include high LDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, diabetes or an elevated hemoglobin A1C, family history, obesity, stress, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle.”

Another cause of coronary artery plaque buildup is SAD: Standard American Diet – laden with synthetic chemicals, saturated fats, trans fats and processed sugars. Sugar is the big enemy, is ubiquitous, and is found in foods you’d never think would contain processed sugars, such as soup and high fiber fruit “bars” that are advertised as being so good for one’s health.

Dr. Steinbaum adds, “Red wine is just one of those recommendations, along with diet and exercise, not smoking, watching your weight and your cholesterol and blood pressure, to help prevent heart disease.”

Does this mean drink up the red wine? Certainly not. The recommendation amongst the medical community as far as maximum amount of daily red wine consumption, for heart health benefits, is:

One glass of red wine a day for women, and two glasses a day for men. And what is one “glass”? It is just 4 ounces. That’s not a lot. Three or four glasses a day are not better for your heart than are one or two glasses a day.

Measure your red wine out in a measuring cup – up to the 4 ounce mark, and stop there. Of course, if you’re a man, you can do this twice.

Why do men get to have two glasses of red wine a day for heart health, and women are limited to just one? Find out here.

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