Study: Red Wine Is Healthier When It's Non-Alcoholic (Sorry)

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Research suggests the alcohol in red wine may actually be impeding the antioxidants' cardiovascular benefits. 

red-wine-BP-615.pngDave Dugdale/Flickr

PROBLEM: Drinking red wine in moderation has been shown to ward off heart disease, and many have latched onto the research as an excuse to indulge a little bit, or a lot. But where does alcohol factor into the benefits?

METHODOLOGY: Researchers at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona instructed 67 men to drink either 10 ounces of red wine, 10 ounces of non-alcoholic red wine, or 3 ounces of gin every day for four weeks. At the end of the four weeks, each subject rotated to a different drink and repeated the process before switching again such that by the end of the study, all 67 men had been observed consuming all three drinks. Each study participant had either diabetes or at least three of the following risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a family history of heart disease, excessive weight or obesity, or smoking.

RESULTS: The non-alcoholic red wine was associated with a significant decrease in blood pressure, lowering heart disease risk by 14 percent and the risk of stroke by 20 percent. The alcoholic red wine, however, did not appear to have such effects.

CONCLUSION: Even though alcoholic and non-alcoholic red wine contain the same amount of heart-healthy antioxidants, the alcohol may be blocking the polyphenols from doing their protective work. Non-alcoholic red wine may therefore be more effective at protecting the heart. 

IMPLICATION: Pairing antioxidants with alcohol appears counterproductive. If you were drinking red wine for the cardiovascular benefits, consider switching to non-alcoholic wine, or any of the multitude of other ways to get antioxidants.

SOURCE: The full study, "Dealcoholized Red Wine Decreases Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure and Increases Plasma Nitric Oxide," is published in the journal Circulation Research.

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Brian Fung is the technology writer at National Journal. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and has written for Foreign Policy and The Washington Post.

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