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Hearts, wine, and beer

Wine gets all of the good publicity when it comes to the health benefits of drinking alcohol. The antioxidant polyphenols and resveratrol from the grapes are supposed to yield a range of benefits. There is debate though as to whether the alcohol itself might be offering some healthy goodness and therefore whether other beverages might offer similar advantages. A new study has added something interesting to the debate.

The new research was an analysis of studies conducted around the world over recent years. This meant that the researchers were examining data from more than 200 000 people.

As far as wine drinking goes the results confirm what was already known; that there is a “j”-shaped relationship wine drinking and heart health. Up to a level of two drinks of wine per day there was a 31 per cent reduction in risk of heart disease. Drinking more than two drinks of wine per day though saw a steady decrease in the benefits for the heart.

One new finding from the study was that beer drinking showed a similar “j”-shaped relationship to heart health. Up to a level of two standard drinks of five per cent alcohol by volume beer showed a maximum reduced risk of heart disease of 33 per cent.

Interestingly, consumption of spirits showed no protection from heart disease at all.

So what does this reveal to us?

Firstly, it shows us that it is probably not the alcohol itself that is protective for your heart, or else spirits would offer protection as well. That means that it might possibly be the polyphenols that occur richly in wine and to an extent in beer that are yielding the benefit. There is however, another observation to be made.

Spirits are usually consumed in a different way to wine and even beer. Spirits are more likely to be associated with binge drinking while a glass of wine or beer can be had on a daily basis with a meal in a relaxed atmosphere.

The researchers were at pains to point out that wine and beer are part of a healthier lifestyle than spirits. Of course, all alcoholic drinks are open to abuse. However, the antioxidants provided by wine and beer, at a moderate level and consumed on a regular daily basis over healthy meals shared with friends or family seem to offer benefits for your heart. Binge drinking or heavy alcohol consumption is not a healthy, or life affirming choice.

Salute! Sante! Cheers! Here’s to a quiet glass shared with friends. Your heart will love it.

The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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