Most people drink wine because they enjoy its unique flavor, aroma, and texture, but there may be a hidden benefit associated with this beverage – heart health. According to some studies, drinking wine regularly could significantly reduce your risk of heart disease.
With nearly one million Americans dying each year from heart disease, this is one study that shouldn’t be taken lightly. But how much of an improvement in heart health does drinking wine really offer? Let’s take a closer look at the potential heart benefits with wine.
The correlation between wine consumption and heart health was brought to life just over a decade ago when scientists noticed that residents in the Mediterranean lived longer, healthier lives with a reduced rate of heart disease. They discovered that residents here were 50% less likely to develop heart disease in their life than Americans.
Through their research, scientists found that people living on these Mediterranean islands were drinking several glasses of red wine on a daily basis, which was much more than the average American.
Antioxidants and Red Wine
It’s unclear exactly how or why red wine is able to improve one’s heart health, but some scientists and medical professionals believe it’s directly related to the antioxidants found within the beverage.
If you don’t know the importance of antioxidants, let me give you a quick explanation – basically, antioxidants are naturally-occurring compounds that work to fight off harmful, cell-damaging chemicals known as free radicals. Although you can’t see them with the naked eye, free radicals are all around us.
They are in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, and even the products we use on our bodies. Small amounts of these free radicals are usually handled by the body without any ill effect; however, excessive amounts can lead to a destructive cycle that damaged otherwise healthy cells. The good news, however, is that a diet rich in antioxidants will protect your cells from the destructive effects of free radicals.
It’s important to note that only red wine (not white) offers the heart-healthy benefits of antioxidants. Studies have shown that people drinking white wine has a little-to-no reduction in their heart disease. This reason for this is because red wine is made with the skin of grapes.
Although it’s usually removed before the wine is bottled, the skin is left in during the fermentation stages. This infuses the beverage with all of the rich nutrients found within the skin of the grapes. Polyphenols are one of the antioxidant compounds found in the skin of grapes that are believed to help protect the heart from disease. Resveratrol is another powerful compound that scientists are eager to learn more about.
The bottom line is that red wine is a delicious beverage with some potentially eye-opening health benefits. With heart disease being the number two killer in America (only behind stroke), we all need to take the problem seriously and work to improve our own health.