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Quick Dose: Is Red Wine Healthy or Harmful?

Before you open a bottle, it might be time to revisit the debate about whether red wine offers any benefit to you and your heart.

Red wine contains antioxidants known as polyphenols, particularly flavonoids like resveratrol and quercetin, which comes primarily from the skins of grapes. Polyphenols may increase your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and protect against cholesterol buildup.

In this way, red wine may offer the following benefits:

  • Lowering your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol
  • Reducing the risk of blood clots forming
  • Preventing artery damage

That said, Northwestern Medicine Cardiologist Patricia Vassallo, MD, Northwestern Medical Group, adds that some research suggests wine may be bad for you. Increased consumption of alcohol may increase your risk for certain cardiovascular diseases, especially atrial fibrillation, certain types of cancer and alcohol use disorders.

Additionally, be aware that drinking too much alcohol can cause increased levels of fats in the blood, which is especially true with triglycerides. It can also lead to high blood pressure, heart failure, weight gain and an increased risk for diabetes.

The bottom line: Although these antioxidants may help lower bad cholesterol, those benefits can also be achieved by adding heart-healthy foods to your diet. If you do opt to indulge in a glass of wine, do so in moderation, which is key for receiving any benefits.

Featured Experts

Patricia Vassallo, MD
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