This One Drink Provides the Same Heart Benefits as Wine, New Study Says
While you've likely heard that wine could be good for your health, you may want to put that glass of merlot down for a moment.
Research presented at the British Science Festival and published in the journal Clinical Nutrition suggests that no amount of alcohol is considered healthy to sip on. Study investigators recruited more than 440,000 adults and asked them to keep track of their drinking habits—which included beer, cider, wine, and spirits—for approximately seven years. The authors checked in with the volunteers' health reports throughout the trial.
Here's what they discovered: Consuming even limited amounts of beer, cider, and spirits was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events, coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (such as stroke), cancer, and overall mortality. The only healthful outcome came from drinking red and white wine, which was shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
However, lead study author Rudolph Schutte, Ph.D., a faculty member at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in the United Kingdom adds that these same benefits were also seen among those who drank non-alcoholic wines. This suggests that it's the antioxidant-rich grapes in wine that are associated with a lower risk of plaque buildup in the arteries. In fact, sipping on a non-alcoholic wine is likely better for your overall health.
"Our findings show that even low levels of alcohol consumption can be damaging to our health," he said in a statement.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 defines drinking in moderation as limiting your consumption to two drinks a day (or less) for men and one drink a day (or less) for women while adding: "Drinking less is better for health than drinking more."
"Even though this is just one study, I am not surprised by these results," says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, nutrition expert and author of Smoothies & Juices: Prevention Healing Kitchen. "Grapes contain a wealth of heart healthy compounds and nutrients, including polyphenols and the mineral potassium. In fact, research shows that grape consumption supports heart health in both men and women."
A 2015 study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that grapes offer multiple cardioprotective benefits, including decreased LDL (bad cholesterol) oxidation, and a reduction in oxidative stress (an imbalance between antioxidants and the production of free radicals), along with a likelihood of decreased inflammation and reduced blood pressure.
She notes that another bonus of sipping a glass of wine-sans-the alcohol will be shown on the scale. "Alcohol-free wine is lower in calories than regular wine because alcohol adds a considerable number of calories," continues Largeman-Roth.
So if you're taking a break from booze and looking to purchase a somewhat healthy bottle of non-alcoholic wine, she advises doing a bit of digging beforehand.
"Alcohol-free wines vary nutritionally from brand to brand, so check out options online before you buy. You're more likely to find information this way than at the store," she says.
Now, be sure to read the 15 Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks That Are Actually Worth Buying. Then, to get healthy tips delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter!