A Term For A Fatty Substance Found In Animal Products The Health Benefits of Drinking Red Wine

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The Health Benefits of Drinking Red Wine

We are often told that red wine is good for our health, but do we really know why?

In countries where red wine is consumed in larger quantities, such as Italy and France, there is less of a problem with heart disease and fatal strokes. Whereas, in countries like North America and the United Kingdom, where red wine is consumed in smaller quantities, the problem is significantly higher. The reason for this is due to the chemicals in red wine, which include polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants and are found in a number of different sources, including grapes/wine as well as beer, tea, coffee, olive oil, chocolate/cocoa, peanuts and some other fruits and vegetables.

The skin of red grapes, (and thus a component of red wine), contains Resveratrol which is a natural phytoalexin or antibiotic. This is produced when the plant is being attacked by bacteria or fungi and is a vital antioxidant for the cardiovascular system. These antioxidants work by helping to reduce oxygen damage caused by substances called free radicals, which can lead to cell dysfunction and the onset of heart disease and diabetes. Resveratrol is known to help increase HDL or good cholesterol levels, while evidence is ongoing for its anti-cancer properties.

Is all cholesterol bad?

No, the body needs cholesterol, it is vital to ensure normal functioning. Without it, the body would not function, however, high levels in the blood system are associated with atherosclerosis, which is the main cause of coronary heart disease. Cholesterol is carried around the body by proteins called lipoproteins.

The two main types of lipoproteins are LDL and HDL:

  1. LDL- low density lipoproteins – is the bad, harmful type of cholesterol. Having too much LDL cholesterol in your blood can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. The risk is worse if you have higher levels of LDL cholesterol with a lower level of HDL cholesterol. If you are at risk of developing heart disease and your LDL level is 100 mg/dL or higher, your cholesterol may be too high.
  2. HDL – high density lipoproteins – is a good, protective type of cholesterol. HDL stops cholesterol from building up in artery walls. If your HDL cholesterol level is below 40 mg/dL, your risk of heart disease is much greater. The higher your HDL cholesterol levels, the better. The average for men is about 45 mg/dL, and for women 55 mg/dL.

Cholesterol, food and red wine.

A big misconception that many people have is that most foods are full of cholesterol. This is not the case, there is actually very little cholesterol found in foods. The ones you should watch out for are eggs, shellfish and offal. The type of fat in the food is key, so when choosing a food, make sure it contains unsaturated fat and not saturated fat.

Saturated fat (bad fat) is mainly found in animal products such as sausages, butter, lard, bacon, pies, biscuits, cakes and pastries. This is the fat we need to reduce. Excess saturated fat raises cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Monounsaturated fat, (the good fat), is found in oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and fresh tuna, sunflower and olive oils, as well as nuts and avocados. These fats can greatly lower cholesterol levels. Many of us should reduce bad animal fats, and where possible replace them with a food high in unsaturated fat. By doing this, and drinking the occasional glass of red wine, we will improve our health dramatically.

But remember, always drink your red wine in moderation, one glass of red wine for women and two glasses for men will reduce the risks involved in heart attacks by 30 to 50 percent. And of course do lots of exercise.

Some of the red wine varieties I would recommend are Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Shiraz.

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