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Health Watch: Red Wine Drinkers Digest Meals Better

Recent research also finds that alcohol can lower blood pressure and that French men who drink a glass or two daily gain less weight

Jacob Gaffney
Posted: March 6, 2013

Red wine linked to better digestion

Two new studies add to evidence that drinking red wine with meals brings health benefits. A recent study by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found pairing turkey cutlets with red wine prevented the increase of malondialdehyde levels in human blood plasma. Malondialdehyde is a deleterious free radical molecule associated with oxidative stress. Red wine reduced its concentration by half in the research, published in the Journal of Functional Foods.

In another study, conducted by a team at a German university hospital in Bochum and published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, subjects who drank red wine while eating a high-fat meal of French fries and pork sausages experienced lower levels of inflammation in their blood vessels than those who drank other beverages.

By way of comparison, blood vessel inflammation was greatly increased if the subjects drank a Coke with the meal. The red wine could help prevent the onset of atherosclerosis, though the scientists concluded it may be better for people to avoid such high-fat meals altogether.

Could alcohol help keep you trim?

A team of researchers at French universities in Lille, Toulouse and Strasbourg has found that daily responsible consumption of alcohol may help keep men thinner. For the study, published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, the team monitored nearly 8,000 men, ages 50 to 59, beginning in 1991. Men who drank daily—nearly 75 percent of the men in the study—were most likely to be trim, as long as they avoided heavy consumption. Occasional drinkers—one to two days a week—were more likely to show signs of obesity, followed by frequent drinkers—three to five days a week.

The average participant who drank daily consumed 264 milliliters of pure alcohol per week—about 9 ounces. Considering the average 5-ounce glass of wine contains 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol according to the Centers for Disease Control, that's about 15 glasses of wine per week.

Light drinking linked to lower blood pressure

Hypertension is considered a silent killer. And the heavy consumption of alcohol is known to increase the level of hypertension in adults, potentially leading to heart disease and stroke. However, a recent meta-analysis of previous research by a team of cardiologists at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center and Columbia University finds that light drinking can either reduce the risk of hypertension or at least not elevate it.

For the analysis, published in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension the team looked at a database of subjects in 16 separate studies. The data showed that, among women, drinking a glass of wine or less per day actually decreased the risk of hypertension by up to 13 percent. Men who drank one or two glasses did not show as large a benefit, but also suffered no greater risk. Heavy drinkers in both categories showed a higher risk.

The study concludes that alcohol intake should be limited to daily recommended allowances, and adults who drink should get their blood pressure checked regularly.

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