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Non-alcoholic wine lowers blood pressure

10th September 2012

Researchers in Spain have found that the health benefits of wine are most apparent in middle-aged men when the alcohol has been removed.

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Previous research has concluded that moderate amounts of red wine yield considerable health benefits. But the recent study, published in the journal Circulation Research, found that non-alcoholic red wine may do an even better job at lowering blood pressure in older men who may be at risk for cardiovascular disease.

The researchers tracked the blood pressure of 67 men who had at least three risk factors for heart disease, or a diagnosis of diabetes.

Their blood pressure was found to fall slightly when they drank red wine containing alcohol, and not at all when they drank gin.

However, the men's blood pressure fell significantly when they drank non-alcoholic wine, by enough of a margin to lower their risk of stroke by 20%, and their risk of heart disease by 14%.

Researchers are now questioning whether the alcohol in wine dampens the effects on health -- and blood pressure -- of polyphenols, powerful anti-oxidants found in red wine. The alcoholic and non-alcoholic red wine had equivalent levels of polyphenols.

According to the research team, the level of polyphenols absorbed from wine was linked to increased levels of nitric oxide -- which is known to lower blood pressure by helping blood vessels to relax and more blood to reach the heart and other organs -- in the men's blood samples.

The study subjects ate similar foods during the course of the study, but drank 10 ounces of red wine, 10 ounces of non-alcoholic red wine, or 3 ounces of gin for a total of four weeks each.

According to researcher Ramon Estruch of the University of Barcelona, the non-alcoholic part of the wine -- namely polyphenols -- exerts a protective effect on the cardiovascular system.

Polyphenols are known to possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may be useful to prevent other disease such as diabetes, Estruch said.

He said more people were likely to start drinking non-alcoholic wine in future, as a result of the study.

According to Suzanne Steinbaum of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, the news will be welcome to people who do not currently drink any alcohol at all, as well as for people wishing to limit their intake for fear of rising blood pressure.

Non-alcoholic wine could provide an alternative way for them to get the heart health benefits of drinking wine, especially the all-important polyphenols.

She said that while other alcoholic drinks have been shown to have health benefits, they may work in a different way to red wine.

 

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