You know how it goes. Your doctor tells you that overall, you’re pretty healthy, but your bad cholesterol is creeping up and your good cholesterol isn’t where it should be. You already live a heart-healthy lifestyle by eating well, exercising and minimizing stress. What more can you do? If you’re anything like us, you look for answers anywhere you can ...
… like the internet. Wine is good for the heart! It says so right there on Instagram, next to that photo of a smiling, fit, bikini-clad influencer hoisting a glass of pinot noir. She looks healthy AND happy. Clearly this is something you must investigate further.
The Deep Dive
You Google “why is wine good for your heart,” and you are not disappointed in the results. “Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart,” says the Mayo Clinic. “Resveratrol might be a key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) and prevents blood clots. Some research shows that resveratrol could be linked to a lower risk of inflammation and blood clotting, which can lead to heart disease. But other studies found no benefits from resveratrol in preventing heart disease.”
You choose to ignore that last sentence and create a game plan. Better health starts now.
The Field Test
A friend agrees to meet you at a local wine bar. It’s happy hour, and you’ve never been happier to embark on a new wellness regime. Two glasses of cabernet in, you’re feeling awfully good about your commitment to yourself. “Polyphenols are red compound modifiers that help your blood vessels,” you offer knowingly between sips. “Reservanoid fights blood clotting in flamingoes.”
You settle your tab, leave a generous tip and call a cab. You are warm. Content. Your body is thanking you already.
It’s 6 a.m., and you’ve woken up with a splitting headache. Your mouth feels like the sticky side of masking tape. And it dawns on you ... perhaps I've made an unfortunate mistake.
You remember the old advice: “Know your limits.” You acknowledge that perhaps three (okay, four) glasses of red wine falls well outside your limit. After you’ve guzzled two cups of strong coffee and a giant glass of water, you settle back in front of your computer. This time, you actually finish the article you glossed over before and read, “Neither the American Heart Association nor the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends that you start drinking alcohol just to prevent heart disease.” Furthermore, they advise, “If you already drink red wine, do so in moderation."
So what does that mean exactly for healthy adults? We're so glad you asked.
- Up to one drink a day for women of all ages.
- Up to one drink a day for men older than age 65.
- Up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. The limit for men is higher because men generally weigh more and have more of an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol than women do.
Fine. FINE. You realize that as fun as a glass of pinot can be, you really might be better off finding a hangover-free source of antioxidants. And maybe on the way home from work, you'll also buy some grapes.