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Researchers have been saying for some time that red wine is good for us. We aren't arguing with it, either. If we can indulge in one of our favorite alcoholic beverages and say we're being healthy, we'll take it – just make sure you do it without embarrassing yourself.
But there's been debate about why red wine is so good for us. Could it be the antioxidants known as polyphenols? Could it be the alcohol?
Until now, researchers were unsure. But they recently discovered that red wine reduces our blood pressure. They conducted a test to see how wine affects the heart, telling 67 older men at risk for heart disease to drink a glass of red wine every day for one month. They told other men to drink non-alcoholic red wine or gin.
To their surprise, they found that the men who drank the nonalcoholic red wine had measurable drops in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. That means it's the polyphenols at work, not the alcohol.
"Our opinion is that these blood pressure-lowering … effects should be attributed to the polyphenols contained in the wine," says researcher Ramon Estruch, M.D., Ph.D.
"Alcohol," he adds, "seems to counteract the effects of the non-alcoholic fraction in red wine."
They suspect that the polyphenols lowered blood pressure by raising blood level of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes arteries and allows blood to move easily.
It's good news for those who want to abstain from alcohol, as drinking nonalcoholic red wine leads to the same, or better, heart benefits.