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
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.
A four-ounce glass of wine is equivalent to one serving. Light-to-moderate alcohol use means having two to seven drinks per week. Heavier drinking can harm the heart and liver. In those who consume three or more drinks per day, there is an increased risk for elevated serum triglycerides (fat in the bloodstream). Long-term, excessive alcohol consumption can damage nerve cells, the liver and the pancreas. Heavy drinkers are also at risk for malnutrition, as alcohol may substitute for more nutritious foods.