Red Wine and Cardiovascular Health
There is strong epidemiological evidence that light-to-moderate consumption of alcoholic drinks, but neither zero nor more than moderate intake, reduces mortality from all causes and also diminishes cardiovascular risk.1 The lowest risk for coronary heart disease mortality is seen with 1 to 2 drinks (12.5–25g alcohol) per day.
Article, see p 1065
Hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and there is a clear inverse relationship between light-to-moderate alcohol intake and blood pressure. Thus, the reduced cardiovascular risk associated with moderate consumption of alcoholic drinks may be due, in part, to a reduction in blood pressure. The greatest blood pressure benefit seems to be obtained with 1 drink per day for women and with 2 drinks per day for men.2
In most published studies, red wine has been used as the alcoholic test beverage. Red wine produces concentration-dependent vasodilator effects in subcutaneous small resistance arteries obtained from patients with essential hypertension.3 In addition, red wine and dealcoholized red wine increase flow-mediated vasodilation of the brachial artery in healthy subjects.4,5 Intake of red wine also counteracts endothelial dysfunction produced by high-fat diet in human volunteers,6 and red wine increases flow-mediated vasodilation and decreases blood pressure in adult cigarette smokers.7,8
Alcohol Versus Polyphenols in Red Wine
With red wine, both the alcoholic and the polyphenolic components seem to contribute to its beneficial effects.9 The alcoholic component is known to increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and to decrease fibrinogen concentrations.10 The polyphenols present in red wine have been shown …