Be it fino, manzanilla, amontillado or oloroso, Sherry consumed in moderate amounts may help reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood, according to research published in the March issue of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
In the medical community, red wine has earned a reputation as a beneficial tipple, in terms of heart health, as long as it is consumed in moderate amounts. But fortified wines, such as Sherry and Port, are typically overlooked in medical research, according to the study authors.
The new study shows that the beneficial effects of red wine extend to Sherry wines, said lead researcher Juan Guerrero, from the University of Seville. He noted that Sherry is very popular in Spain, its country of origin, as well as in the United Kingdom.
Red wine contains polyphenols, and these chemical compounds are believed to break down LDL cholesterol, the "bad" kind, before it can build up on blood vessel walls. Polyphenols may also aid in the production of HDL cholesterol, the "good" kind. Guerrero and his team wanted to see if Sherry contained enough polyphenols to exert a similar effect.
The scientists separated lab rats into three groups. Over two months, one group was given just water to drink, another received water mixed with ethanol, and a third group drank Sherry, as well as water.
According to the scientists, the amount of Sherry the rats quaffed is the equivalent of 150ml per day for a 154-pound human. The Sherry-drinking rats were divided into four groups. Each group received a different type of Sherry -- amontillado, fino, manzanilla or oloroso -- so the scientists could record the effects of the different types separately.
After two months, the scientists observed that the Sherry-drinking rats had not lost any weight, nor experienced any other physical changes that could be related to declining health.
Blood samples showed that the Sherry-drinking rats had lower levels of bad cholesterol and higher levels of good cholesterol than either the rats that drank water or the rats that drank water and ethanol. The results were similar regardless of which form of Sherry the rats consumed.
"These effects were apparently not related to the ethanol content," wrote the researchers. They concluded that the polyphenols in Sherry may be responsible for the healthier cholesterol levels.
While the study was conducted on only rats, the scientists believe the results point to possible benefits for humans. "Drinking Sherry can also increase the body's production of HDL cholesterol," they wrote, "which is associated with longevity and a decreased incidence of coronary artery disease."
For a comprehensive look at the potential health benefits of drinking wine, check out senior editor Per-Henrik Mansson's feature Eat Well, Drink Wisely, Live Longer: The Science Behind A Healthy Life With Wine
Read more about the potential health benefits of light to moderate alcohol consumption:
Drinking Alcohol Reduces Risk Factors for Heart Disease in Elderly, Research Finds
Light Drinking Linked to Better Cardiovascular Health in Elderly, Study Finds
Red Wine May Help Reduce Damage from Smoking, Study Finds
Study Finds Red Wine Destroys Bacteria That Cause Lung Infections, Heart Disease
French Scientists Find New Anti-Cancer Substance in Red Wine
Red-Wine Compound Shows Potential for Alleviating Bronchitis, Emphysema, Research Finds
The Beer Gut Takes a One-Two Punch: Research Finds Drinking May Not Lead to Weight Gain
Women Who Drink Wine More Likely to Become Pregnant, Research Shows
Moderate Wine Drinking May Reduce Risk of Rectal Cancer, Study Shows
Researchers Discover New Potentially Beneficial Compounds in Wine
Red-Wine Compound May Hold Secret to Fountain of Youth, Harvard Researchers Believe
Doctors Should Start Recommending Alcohol Consumption, Argue Australian Researchers
Following a Mediterranean-Style Diet Reduces Risk of Deadly Diseases, Study Finds
Alcohol Does Not Affect Risk of Parkinson's, Study Finds
Risk of Diabetes Lower in Young Women Who Drink Moderately, Harvard Study Finds
Moderate Drinking May Reduce Tumors in the Colon
Red-Wine Compound Might Help Prevent Cancer-Causing Sunburns, Study Finds
Red-Wine Polyphenol May Help Keep the Heart Healthy, Research Finds
Red-Wine Compound Shows Potential for Fighting Skin Cancer
Grape-Seed Extract to Be Tested for Effectiveness in Reducing Scars From Radiation Treatments
Light to Moderate Drinking May Be Associated With Lower Rates of Dementia in Elderly, Says Study
New Research Sheds More Light on Link Between Drinking and Stroke Risk
French Scientists Develop White Wine That Acts Like a Red
Wine, Beer Wipe Out Ulcer-Causing Bacteria, Study Shows
Frequent Drinking Lowers Chance of Heart Attack, Study Shows
Drinking Has Little Effect on Risk of Lung Cancer, Research Finds
Moderate Alcohol Consumption May Be Better for Women's Hearts Than for Men's, Canadian Study Finds
Moderate Wine Consumption Linked to Lower Risk of Dementia, Study Finds
Red-Wine Compound to Be Tested As Anti-Cancer Drug
Drink to Your Health and Pour Some on the Counter, Too
Moderate Wine-Drinking May Help Prevent Second Heart Attack, French Study Finds
Wine Drinkers Have Healthier Habits, Study Reports
Red Wine Helps Keep Obese People Heart-Healthy, Study Finds
Red Wine May Help Fight Prostate Cancer, Spanish Study Finds
Wine Consumption, Especially White, May Be Good for the Lungs, Study Finds
Moderate Drinking May Decrease Women's Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes
Wine Drinkers Less Likely to Catch Common Cold, Research Finds
Study Sheds New Light on How Red Wine May Help Fight Cancer
Moderate Drinking May Be Good for the Brain, Not Just the Heart, New Study Finds
Wine Drinking May Reduce Risk of Dementia in Elderly, Italian Study Finds
English Scientists Claim to Crack French Paradox
New Study Sheds More Light on Antioxidants in Red Wine
Moderate Drinking Does Not Reduce Chance of Becoming Pregnant, Research Finds
Moderate Drinking Can Slow Hardening of Arteries, New Research Shows
Study Examines Drinking's Effect on Brain Health in Elderly
Wine Drinkers Smarter, Richer and Healthier, Danish Study Finds
Chemical Compound Found in Red Wine May Lead to Treatment for Prostate Cancer
Drinking Wine After a Heart Attack May Help Prevent Another, Study Finds
Wine Consumption Linked to Lower Risk of Strokes in Women, Finds CDC Study
Wine May Have More Health Benefits Than Beer and Liquor
Moderate Alcohol Consumption May Reduce Women's Risk of Heart Disease, New Study Shows
Harvard Study Examines the Role of Moderate Consumption in Women's Diets
Scientists Uncover Why Resveratrol May Help Prevent Cancer
Moderate Consumption Still Part of Healthy Diet
Moderate Drinking May Lower Men's Risk of Diabetes, Study Finds
European Study Links Wine Drinking to Lower Risk of Brain Deterioration in Elderly
Wine May Increase Bone Mass in Elderly Women, Study Finds
Dietary Guidelines Committee Revises Recommendations on Alcohol
Moderate Drinking Can Cut Heart Attacks By 25 Percent
Study Finds Moderate Drinking Cuts Risk of Common Strokes
Study Points to Potential Benefits of Alcohol for Heart Patients
Moderate Alcohol Consumption Cuts Risk of Stroke for Elderly
Light Drinkers Face No Added Risk of Breast Cancer
New Studies Link Wine and Health Benefits
Here's to Your Health: Is it now "medically correct" for a physician to prescribe a little wine to lower the risk of heart disease?