While there is research aplenty touting the health benefits of a glass of red wine, a new study suggests that non-alcoholic wine may have even more heart-healthy effects.
First introduced to the marketplace some 20 years ago, non-alcoholic or "de-alcoholized" wine is made using fermented grapes like regular wine, but then most of the alcohol is removed.
According to the research, non-alcoholic red wine was found to be even more effective at lowering blood pressure in men who are at high risk for heart attack. The study findings were published online September 6 in Circulation Research.
University of Barcelona researchers recruited 67 men who had diabetes or three or more heart disease risk factors. The men spent three periods of four weeks each drinking either non-alcoholic red wine, red wine, or gin with their meals, switching to a different beverage at the end of every phase.
During the month they imbibed regular red wine or gin, the men's blood pressures showed little or no change. But when they switched to non-alcoholic wine, their blood pressure dipped -- only a modest amount, but enough to translate into a 14 percent reduced risk for coronary heart disease and a 20 percent decrease in risk for strokes.
The benefits of red wine are found in its powerful antioxidants called polyphenols, not the alcohol. The alcohol may actually dampen red wine's blood pressure-reducing effect, suggest the researchers. They also speculate that non-alcoholic wine may increase nitric oxide in the bloodstream, a chemical that relaxes blood vessels.
"The non-alcoholic part of the wine -- namely polyphenols -- exert a protective effect on the cardiovascular system," stated researcher Ramon Estruch, MD, PhD. "Polyphenols also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may be useful to prevent other diseases such as diabetes."
Other foods high in polyphenols include coffee, tea, chocolate and brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, raspberries, kale, and broccoli.