All of us have heard about the health benefits of wine. The antioxidants present in wine, particularly in red wine, have been linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and a glass or two per night is a common suggestion for those looking to lower their bad cholesterol. If you want a refresher, check out my article here!
It turns out, though, that just drinking a glass or two of Pinot Noir each night is not enough. In a new study by the European Society of Cardiology, people who drank wine 5 nights a week had their cholesterol levels tracked over the course of a year. The trial, entitled “In Vino, Veritas,” looked at both men and women, who were divided into two groups; half the participants drank a pinot noir and the other half drank a chardonnay-pinot noir (white) blend. Both wines came from the same vintage and the same region of the Czech Republic. Participants kept a log of their wine and alcohol consumption, medication use, and exercise habits.
This study is extraordinary for a couple reasons. First of all, Professor Milos Taborsky, the lead researcher on the project, was looking for a rise in HDL cholesterol, which is “the main indication of a protective effect against cardiovascular disease.” However, at the end of the year the HDL cholesterol level s were not markedly different from the participants’ beginning stats. This points to the conclusion that neither red nor white wine contributes to the prevention of heart disease. LDL cholesterol was lower in both the red and white groups at one year, while the total cholesterol level was lower for the red wine drinkers only. So while Professor Taborsky concluded that neither red nor white wine “had any impact on study participants as a whole,” consuming either type of wine does appear to have a beneficial effect on the drinker’s cholesterol levels.
This is the first randomized study that attempts to look at the comparative benefits of red wine vs. white wine on cardiovascular health. By controlling the vintage, varietal, and appellation of the wines drunk by the participants, we are able to compare the risks and benefits of the wines in real-life circumstances, rather than posit theories based on our understanding of what should happen. The traditional view of red wine as a healthier option than white wine must be reevaluated in light of these findings.
Professor Taborsky found something even more astounding in this trial: “The only positive and continuous result was in the subgroup of patients who took more exercise, which means regular exercise at least twice a week, plus the wine consumption. In this group HDL cholesterol increased and LDL and total cholesterol decreased in the red and white wine groups.”
As if we needed another reason to get moving and battle against the obesity epidemic!
The study shows that moderate wine consumption and regular exercise work in combination to protect against cardiovascular disease; it’s not enough to pour yourself a glass or two each night! Exercise is, as we have been told by medical professionals time and time again, necessary for our health.
So next time you go shopping for wine, consider walking, running, or biking to the store. Get your heart rate up and get a little sweaty! That wine will taste much better with the knowledge that you’ve earned the chance to treat yourself—and you’re treating your body right!