ua en ru

Is wine heart protector or provoker? Exploring its true health impact

Is wine heart protector or provoker? Exploring its true health impact Illustrative photo (Photo:
Author: Daria Shekina

For a long time, there has been a belief among people that a small amount of wine is beneficial for health. Even some studies have shown results supporting this theory. However, it's not all that simple...

Nutritionist Oleg Shvets on Facebook, explains how wine specifically affects the cardiovascular system's health.

What is the French paradox

Results from the MONICA project in the early 1990s showed that although the French diet contains a high amount of saturated fats, they have low mortality rates from atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases.

Scientists tried to explain this paradox by the regular consumption of wine, as it is consumed more in France than in other Western European countries.

"Although in reality, Greece, Spain, and Italy also have lower rates of ischemic heart disease and mortality from heart attacks and strokes with high consumption of dietary fat and under similar influence of other classic risk factors for cardiovascular diseases," says a doctor.

Debates continue regarding the reasons for this paradox, with wine playing a key role. A meta-analysis from 2011 confirmed the correlation between wine consumption, the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and mortality from them.

How wine affects cardiovascular diseases

"The minimum amount of hazardous cardiovascular conditions is observed with the consumption of wine equivalent to 21 grams of pure ethanol. A less reliable association is observed between beer consumption and the risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disorders. A similar connection has not been established for other alcoholic beverages, the consumption of which likely does not have a protective effect," explains Shvets.

Minimal or moderate wine consumption is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, while excessive wine consumption or binge drinking significantly increases the risk.

Regarding the dangerous amount of ethanol in one serving, scientists' assessments differ and range from 8 grams to 20 grams.

"Most international and national expert organizations insist that a safe dose of alcohol is 0 milliliters of ethanol per day and do not recommend starting its consumption. For those who consume alcoholic beverages, it is recommended to limit their quantity to less than 2 servings per day, drink alcohol with food, and have at least two alcohol-free days per week," says the nutritionist.

Active microcomponents in wine

Wine significantly differs from other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in its content of various functional substances. Wine contains many active substances.

"Resveratrol is the only functionally active compound found only in wine. It is a key biomarker in studying the level of wine consumption. Phenolic components are more abundant in red wine compared to rosé and white wine. However, their quantity may significantly depend on the specifics of winemaking technologies," says the doctor.

Can wine protect against heart disease?

"Wine can be imagined as an orchestra playing numerous bioactive substances. Research results demonstrate important effects from their synergistic action, including improvement of lipid composition in the blood, endothelial function, anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, and antioxidant effects," notes Shvets.

He adds that wine is probably the only alcoholic beverage that has such attractive effects that can reduce the risk of dangerous cardiovascular events.

"However, claims about the beneficial effects of alcohol on health and recommendations that would stimulate increased consumption cannot be applied to alcohol. Fortifying beneficial food products with wine's active components and taking dietary supplements are healthier alternative ways to achieve effects that likely relate to the 'French Paradox'," emphasizes the doctor.

Read also about the healthy habit that increases the mortality rate from cardiovascular diseases by 91%.