For many years, we’ve been told that red wine, about 4 ounces a day but no more than 7 drinks a week, can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Resveratrol, the ingredient found in grape skins, is linked to lowering your “bad” cholesterol, preventing blood clots and preventing damage to your veins and arteries.
Some studies have even recommended that non-drinkers consider adding a glass of wine at least twice a week to improve heart health.
Well, don’t pop that cork just yet, because newer research shows that the benefit of moderate amounts of red wine and other alcoholic drinks may not be all it’s thought to be.
Researchers are beginning to take a closer look at the broader data and are concluding that:
- Wine drinkers are more likely to have better access to healthcare.
- Wine drinkers are more likely to exercise regularly.
- Wine drinkers are more likely to have healthier diets overall.
- Non-drinkers are more likely to have quit drinking because they had a health-related crisis.
In a nutshell, non-drinkers tend to be less healthy in the first place, whereas wine drinkers have a tendency to be healthier overall. While it will take several more years for scientists to tease out all the data that hasn’t been previously considered in these studies, we at Vascular Specialists do know this: alcohol is detrimental to your vascular health for a variety of reasons.
First, alcohol is addictive and if you have a family history of alcoholism or alcohol abuse, starting to drink even moderate amounts could trigger addiction. Whether a person drinks a few too many every day, or binges occasionally, alcohol can cause a myriad of problems, including:
- Irregular heartbeat
The heart doesn’t properly contract with Atrial fibrillation, or Afib, resulting in blood pooling in the heart’s chambers. This pooling can cause clots to form, which causes stroke. Ventricular tachycardia is an electrical signal dysfunction, causing the heart to beat too quickly and not fill with enough blood with each beat, resulting in cardiac arrest and sudden death.
Besides the alcohol-induced arrhythmias described above that result in stroke, alcohol can cause stroke in drinkers with no evidence of cardiac disease.
- High blood pressure
Drinking alcohol cause the body to produce a hormone which causes blood vessels to constrict and blood pressure to elevate. Alcohol damages the muscles within blood vessels, also causing constriction.
- Stretching of the heart muscle, cardiomyopathy
The heart is weakened, and cannot pump enough blood to properly supply organs with oxygen and nutrients.
When you want to reap the harvest of benefits from resveratrol without the dangers of alcohol, indulge in grapes, particularly red, dark grape juice, blueberries and peanuts. These foods are naturally rich in resveratrol. If you’re considering a resveratrol supplement, be aware that studies show supplements are not absorbed into your body as effectively as the resveratrol in whole foods.
Do you have questions about your vascular health and your alcohol consumption? Ask your Vascular Specialists medical professional by calling our office. We are always happy to help!