Drinking alcohol-free wine is just as good for the heart

Researchers have discovered that the benefits of wine for a reduced risk of heart disease comes from the grapes and not the alcohol.

If you do not consume alcohol, you can still benefit from the reduced risk of heart disease associated with drinking a glass of wine a day.

New research shows that the health benefits of wine for the heart comes from antioxidants in grapes and not the alcohol component.

To determine the impacts of moderate consumption of alcohol on one’s health, researchers from Anglia Ruskin University analysed data collected from some 450,000 people between 40 and 69 years old.

Nutritious Grapes

The team of researchers found that the risk of getting a coronary heart disease was reduced by 40% among people who consume up to 11 glasses of wine a week compared to non-drinkers and chronic drinkers.

The same level of reduced risk was discovered among those who drank the non-alcoholic versions of wine.

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Grapes contain antioxidants that are beneficial to the heart. Photo by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash

This suggests that it is the grapes used in the production of wine that helps to protect the heart and not the alcohol.

Lead researcher, Dr Rudolph Schutte explained that:

There is an undeniable protective relationship between coronary heart disease and consumption of both red and white wine. However, this is not seen with the other cardiovascular diseases. This relationship is also seen for alcohol-free wine, so it suggests the benefits are thanks to the polyphenols in the wine rather than the alcohol.

The ‘But’

The team however cautions that the positive link between wine and reduced risk of heart disease does not extend to other health risks, especially cancer.

Participants who drank low levels of beer, cider and spirits were shown to have higher risk levels of heart and cerebrovascular disease, cancer and mortality.

Dr Schutte said the findings:

...do not support the notion that alcohol from any drink type is beneficial to health. A group of non-drinkers will contain individuals who abstain from alcohol due to various pre-existing health reasons, making this reference group surprisingly high-risk. Comparing a group of low to moderate drinkers to this "risky" reference group of non-drinkers could wrongly indicate that alcohol is beneficial to health.

The NHS recommends drinking a maximum of 14 units of alcohol per week. But Dr Schutte said:

even low levels of alcohol consumption can be damaging to our health.
Drinking alcohol can have this surprising benefit, study shows Drinking alcohol can have this surprising benefit, study shows