At our regular family gatherings, as we prepare to sit around the table for a wonderful Italian dinner, my father will joyously declare "in vino veritas" (Latin for "in wine there is the truth") as he opens a nice bottle of red wine to go with our dinner. Consuming a glass of wine with fine food has been a tradition in my family and my father has become quite the expert at pairing red wines with food. But I digress; this isn't supposed to be a promo for the wine industry, but rather a highlight of the benefits of red wine (and grapes in general) for heart health and particularly cholesterol.
It seems that when consumed in moderation, red wine can provide some real benefits for our cardiovascular system. As reported in this article, red wine contains antioxidants and resveratrol which have shown in studies to contain properties that promote heart health and prevent future heart problems. Mainly, consuming red wine will help raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol), reduce the formation of blood clots, and help prevent artery damage caused by high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the "bad" cholesterol. Raising the levels of HDL and protecting arteries from damage can be half the battle for those of us suffering from high cholesterol.
However, moderation is key when consuming alcohol. Consuming too much alcohol can have a counterproductive effect by increasing the risk of high blood pressure, damaging the liver, causing high triglyceride counts, causing weight gain, and in some instances even consuming small amounts can bring about a weakened heart muscle condition called cardiomyopathy, which can cause heart failure in some people. For those that need to stay away from alcohol or would rather not start consuming alcohol, eating red grapes and drinking grape juice (preferably organic with no sugar added) can provide many of the great heart health benefits provided by red wine.
Dr. Steven Kang, an expert contributor to HealthCentral, wrote a great article highlighting the benefits of red wine consumption in moderation, and how red wine has positively affected the heart health of Europeans whose eating habits can be considered somewhat unhealthy, at best. So, raise that glass of red wine and enjoy one of the finest products nature has to offer, while your heart reaps the benefits - all in moderation, of course