Health Benefits of Drinking Wine

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Researchers from all around the world continued to provide evidence of wine's far-reaching health advantages.

Here's a rundown of the good news for winemakers and wine enthusiasts alike:

A Heart That Is Healthier

In the year 2000, several studies proved the good news that wine, when consumed in moderation, lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. For example, Swedish researchers at the Karolinska Institute reported  that light drinkers who consumed wine regularly had a nearly one-third lower risk of dying prematurely than those who don't, and wine drinkers as a group had significantly lower mortality from cardiovascular disease and cancer than those who are not.

Furthermore, scientists are beginning to understand how wine gives our bodies its beneficial effects. For starters, this most ancient of beverages appears to widen arteries and boost blood flow, lessening the chance of clots that cut off blood supply and harm heart muscles, according to results published in the January 2000 issue of European Heart Journal.

Furthermore, the fruit of the vine appears to increase HDL, or "good" cholesterol, and to help prevent LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, from damaging artery linings. Scientists from the Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine in Amsterdam assessed 275 men and women between the ages of 32 in a study published in the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior in May 2000. Those who drank the equivalent of a glass or two of wine each day had much greater levels of "good" cholesterol because the "bad" artery-clogging LDLs are removed before they may clog blood vessels. Indeed, alcohol appears to aid this process, allowing HDLs to more easily eject their harmful counterparts from the bloodstream.

However, even when LDLs remain in the arteries, phenols included in wine appear to help prevent the bad cholesterol from causing damage. Italian researchers from the National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research reported in the November 2000 Journal of Nutrition and Biochemistry that phenols appear to limit the oxidation of LDLs, making them less capable of damaging the linings of arteries and, thus, less able to set the stage for cardiovascular disease such as heart disease and stroke.

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