Every time a study comes out touting the health benefits of red wine, that glass with dinner always tastes and feels extra-satisfying. Now, those who abstain from alcohol don’t have to miss out on the perks.
Results from a recent study have found that drinking nonalcoholic red wine helps lower blood pressure—and may do a better job at doing so than normal red wine.
The study aimed to evaluate the effects of both alcoholic and nonalcoholic red wine in men at high risk for cardiovascular disease. The 73 men, all between 55 and 75 years old, had diabetes or heart disease risk factors.
For the first four weeks, the men drank alcoholic red wine daily. The next four weeks they switched to nonalcoholic red wine. The last four, they drank gin daily.
Blood samples revealed that nonalcoholic red wine decreased blood pressure and increased plasma nitric oxide concentration, which is a good thing, since nitric oxide allows for better blood flow. On the other hand, red wine didn’t present any significant changes in blood pressure. Gin had no effect whatsoever.
Researchers concluded that the blood-pressure-lowering and nitric-oxide-raising effects are attributed to the polyphenols in red wine—not to the alcohol. In particular, they found that drinking nonalcoholic red wine is associated with a 14 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 20 percent reduction in stroke risk.
Of course, the study has a glaring limitation: The researchers acknowledged that four weeks does not accurately represent the effects of long-term consumption. Still, combined with an exercise regimen and a well-balanced diet, drinking nonalcoholic red wine may still prove useful for preventing low to moderate hypertension.
The full study was published in the journal Circulation Research, a publication of the American Heart Association.