Q: Can moderate wine consumption help lower blood pressure?—William, Lexington, Ky.
A: High blood pressure (HBP), also known as hypertension, is a common condition where the force of the blood against the artery walls is too high, potentially leading to heart disease and stroke. Preventative measures include exercise, a healthy, low-sodium diet and stress management, as well as medications. Moderate consumption of wine, which is rich in polyphenolic compounds including resveratrol, has also been linked to lower blood pressure.
In a study published in the American Heart Association's medical journal Circulation, scientists tested resveratrol on mice with HBP and found that the polyphenol lowered blood pressure by helping blood vessels expand. But the study's authors warn that the observed benefits could not be achieved via moderate drinking, as the volume of resveratrol administered to the mice was equivalent to more than 1,000 bottles of wine a day.
Flavanol-rich diets, which include wine, have also been linked to better heart health. Another recent study, published in Scientific Reports, found that high polyphenol intake, specifically from tea, wine and apples, was associated with lower blood pressure. Lead author Dr. Gunter Kuhnle notes that the effect of high flavanol intake on blood pressure was strongest among those already suffering from HBP.
Our understanding of wine's impact on cardiovascular health is still growing. Consult your physician before incorporating moderate wine consumption as part of a healthy diet.—Shawn Zylberberg