So many wine connoisseurs just love to uncork a bottle of their favorite red, sit among friends and talk about life. These are some of the best moments and if your heart goes pitter patter with every sip, there might be an even deeper reason than simply spending time in good company.
Red wine’s effects on the heart have been studied for years and research is ongoing. It seems those who imbibe in red wine in moderation have a lower risk of heart disease, yet further research is needed to ascertain if wine is better for the heart than other forms of alcohol. However, research that has already taken place shows the definite benefits on the heart of this particular libation.
It has been shown that antioxidants – molecules that fight free radicals causing harm in the body – are integral for heart health and red wine is brimming with them by way of a polyphenol called reservatrol. Links between red wine and fewer heart attacks aren't understood totally, but part of the benefit might be that antioxidants in red wine may increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) and protect against the buildup of “bad” cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
The Case for Reservatrol
Some research shows resveratrol could be linked to a lower risk of inflammation and blood clotting, which can lower heart disease risk. Reservatrol in red wine comes from grape skins used to make wine. Because red wine is fermented with grape skins longer than white wine, red wine contains more resveratrol. Of course, you could simply eat grapes or drink grape juice to get reservatrol, but not to the extent that drinking wine would provide.
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Choosing a Heart-Healthy Red Wine
Dry reds have the most heart benefits. These vintages don’t have residual sugar and are fermented longer than sweet wines. Also, red wines with higher tannins that give wine its astringent quality – are considered to be healthier. These tannins come from grape skins. However, tannins are always an earmark of a healthy red.
Here is a list of some wines to choose if you’re looking to be kinder to your ticker:
Here you have it. Pinot Noir is thought to be the healthiest wine you can drink. Since the grapes have a thinner skin, it is a less tannic wine which is a deviation from the norm of what is considered a healthier wine. It does, however, have high concentrations reservatrol. Pinot grapes grown in cooler climates actually start out with less sugar which also translates into fewer calories than more full-bodied wines.
This Umbrian rare grape hailing from central Italy is rich in antioxidants. According to a study, Sagrantino wine might have the most antioxidants of any red wine and with bold notes of plum, blueberry jam, black tea and cocoa, it also contains a large number of tannins. Drink it slowly to savor each sip.
The medium-bodied Merlot with notes of black cherry and plum, is an easy wine to come by and the second most popular grape in the world. The wine has high reservatrol and procyanidin levels for promoting cardiovascular health.
Due to its flavonoids, it is said Cabernet Sauvignon is not only another great heart-healthy red, but also helps to stimulate the production of a protein called the amyloid precursor, a big player in neural cell health. Cabernet Sauvignon also contains a chemical that kills certain strains of cavity-causing bacteria.
This Italian red remains an overlooked regional delicacy, with a smaller bottle circulation and awareness even among wine aficionados. If its health benefits were more widely known, perhaps Barbera would be found on more dinner tables. Research has shown cooler ripening and fermentation methods, like those utilized with this grape type in northern Italian regions, increase resveratrol concentrations.
Malbec grapes have very thick skins compared to most wine-grape varieties ensuring they’re loaded with resveratrol antioxidants that play a key role in cardiovascular and immune health. Malbecs contain about four times the antioxidant content as popular merlots and nearly twice as much as cabernet sauvignons. The reasons for this has as much to do with their grape’s seed cultivation as it does geography.
Cannonau, or Grenache
The Cannonau, or Grenache, grape is extremely high in resveratrol. Originating from Sardinia, Cannonau grapes are thin-skinned black grapes producing many varieties and blends of sweet and dry wine, called Cannonau di Sardegna wines. These wines are characterized by a warm, velvety berry flavor ranging from fruity and light to sapid and dark. This fruit generates high concentrations of polyphenols and anthocyanins due to its late ripening and harvesting. As the grapes develop their thick skins, their heart-health compounds increase, contributing to the health of those who drink their wines.
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