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Heart Smart Living
Heart Smart Living

Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.

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Non-Alcoholic Red Wine Lowers Blood Pressure Better Than the Real Stuff

Since the 1970’s, scores of scientific studies have attested to the health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption. For instance, a twelve year study known as the U.S. National Health Interview Survey followed more than 245,000 Americans and reported in 2010 that those who enjoyed alcohol in moderation (no more than one drink daily for women, and two for men) were one third less likely to experience a heart attack compared to those who never touched the stuff. The brain also appears to benefit from moderate alcohol use, with many studies finding a lower risk for stroke and dementia. On the other hand, heavier drinkers are more likely to experience heart disease, high blood pressure, heart rhythm abnormalities, and dementia.

While red wine appears to have the edge, probably due to its abundance of heart healthy antioxidants, any form of alcohol may be protective. But what if alcohol is not for you? A study conducted by scientists from the University of Barcelona took a look at the effects of red wine, dealcoholized red wine, and gin on blood pressure in 67 men considered to be at high risk for heart disease. The participants consumed the equivalent of two drinks daily, and each one went through all three phases of the study.

Blood pressure includes both systolic (the top number) and diastolic (the bottom number) readings. When the results were in, the non-alcoholic red wine came out ahead, lowering systolic blood pressure by nearly six points and diastolic pressure by two points. The regular red wine lowered blood pressure a tad (one to two points), while the gin had minimal effect. Although these numbers may not sound impressive, even this modest degree of blood pressure reduction has the power to reduce heart attack risk by 14 percent and stroke risk by as much as 20 percent.

If you love a good glass of wine, there’s no need to give it up, but it’s great to know that teetotalers can enjoy a goblet of grape juice and perhaps lower their blood pressure at the same time. Of course, not all grape juices are made the same, and the dealcoholized red wine used for the study is not widely available. If you choose to add grape juice to your diet, avoid those brands that include added sugar (especially high fructose corn syrup) and artificial flavors and colors. 

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Tags: Alcohol and the Heart

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About the Author


Dr. Samaan is an acclaimed cardiologist, writer, and heart health educator.