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Buzz Kill Alert: Red Wine's Health Benefits May Be Bogus

Update Date: Sep 07, 2012 08:36 AM EDT

Red wine has always been touted as the healthier choice when trying to get your buzz on. Though it has a higher caloric intake than white wines, the health benefits of the former have always made it the better beverage choice.

Previous studies conducted by researchers from Framingham Heart Study and another published in the journal Menopause claim that moderate drinkers of red wine - people who consume one to two drinks per day - have higher bone mineral density compared with heavy drinkers and people who don't consume alcohol at all.

It has also been popularly posited by patients and physicians alike that red wine reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and can lower blood pressure, making it the alcoholic beverage of choice among heart attack survivors and other patients diagnosed with cardiovascular illnesses.

However, all of this may only be true for non-alcoholic red wine.

According to research published by the journal Circulation Research, as reported by ABC news, Spanish investigators studied 67 men with several risks for cardiovascular disease or diabetes. The men were asked to consume, alternatively, red wine, nonalcoholic red wine and gin with their meals for a three month trial period.

The report reveals that the months where the men imbibed in gin and red wine , their blood pressure showed little to no change. However in the month they consumed non-alcoholic wine there was a small drop in blood pressure which translates to a "14 percent reduced risk for coronary heart disease and a 20 percent decrease in risk for strokes,"

and all this only after a month of drinking it.

Why was this the case?

While red wine contains heart-healthy antioxidants that have the potential to reduce blood pressure, the alcohol cancels it out, thereby producing no affect, good or bad, on the blood stream. Virgin wine however, was shown to stimulate the production of nitric oxide in the blood, which is the chemical responsible for relaxing blood vessels.

But not to worry, wine lovers. Critics say that many details were omitted in the study and that further research is needed to make any conclusions.

Dr. Malissa Wood, a cardiologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center in Boston, tells ABC news:

"Maybe it's related to the type of grape and process used to make the wine -- the authors didn't specify whether or not all the wines were made from the same grapes using the same techniques. It's also possible that the process for removal of alcohol leads to formation of another potentially beneficial compound or increases the content of antioxidants," she said.

They also note that non-alcoholic beverages may not be completely devoid of alcohol since by law any non-alcoholic beverage is able to contain up to "half percent of alcohol by volume."  

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