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Is Red Wine Good For Your Heart?

Are you the person who exclaims “oh go on, it’s full of antioxidants so it’s good for me!” when presented with a nice glass of red wine? While you are right that red wine contains antioxidants, are the antioxidants in wine really good for you and do they have any benefit to your heart?

The idea that red wine, antioxidants and heart health may be linked is a relatively new concept which only dates back to the late 1980’s. Researchers discovered what they called “The French Paradox”, which explored the anomaly that the French had relatively low levels of heart disease despite their appetite for rich, fatty foods and above-average consumption of wine. The theory speculated that the compounds found in the skin and seeds of the purple grape and furthermore in their nightly glass of red wine can help protect the heart.

So, is red wine really heart healthy?

While the links between heart health and red wine aren’t totally understood there are some grounds for celebration. Antioxidants in red wine, called polyphenols, may help to protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. One of these polyphenols, resveratrol, is getting particular attention for its ability to help prevent damage to blood vessels, reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) and prevent blood clots.

Most research on resveratrol has been done on animals, not people. Research in mice given resveratrol suggests that the antioxidant might also help protect them from obesity and diabetes, both of which are strong risk factors for heart disease. However, those findings were reported only in mice, not in people. In addition, to get the same dose of resveratrol used in the mice studies, a person would have to drink over 60 liters of red wine every day.

Of course, doctors don’t recommend taking up drinking specifically for its heart health benefits, especially if you have a family history of alcohol addiction. But if you are already enjoying a (singular is recommended) glass of wine in the evening, you might want to make it a glass of red wine for the added antioxidants.

The best way to improve heart health

Since you can’t drink your way to a healthy heart, it’s time to focus on aerobic exercise. For the past two decades, scientists and researchers from the Department of Integrative Physiology (IPHY) at the University of Colorado Boulder have been studying the effects of regular aerobic exercise. They have linked the positive effects of exercise to improvement in things such as blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and body fat. Also, through their studies, the team at IPHY have found that exercise also benefits arterial stiffness, helps to improve protein structure within the blood vessel wall and reduces oxidative stress and inflammation.

+ Learn how aerobic fitness benefits your heart

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Here’s the grape news

Why not do both! We have scoured the internet to find events where you can combine the joy of drinking wine with aerobic fitness. Here are our top three running events around the world which end in a glass of wine...

Wicked Wine Run: With events all over America, the Wicked Wine Run is accessible to everyone, the only rule is “NO WINE SNOBS”. Choose between a 5km run with a celebratory wine at the finish line, a 1k four-stop tasting walk, or combine the two for the ultimate wine drinking and exercise experience. The unique courses take you through their favorite vineyards and are an opportunity to try different varietals of wine from the region. “Stay, play and rock out” with live bands, food trucks and of course, more wine from the wineries featured in the run.

The Hawkes Bay Marathon: Of course, as a New Zealand company, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to promote our world-famous wine. One region of note is the Hawkes Bay. The Hawkes Bay Marathon has a 10km option which is a relatively flat course that snakes along the beautiful New Zealand coast, then cuts through the famous vines of the area, along the river and finishes at Elephant Hill Estate Winery. Once racers cross the finish line, the winery opens their cellar door and the party begins.

Moldova Wine Cellar Race: This race is held in the state-owned Milestii Mici winery, entered into the Guinness World Records in 2005 for storing the largest number of bottles of wine in the world. This 200km network of limestone tunnels now holds around 2 million bottles of mixed variety Moldovan wine. While a 10km run through a wine cellar seems a breeze, the race presents a few challenges. The wine cellar is dark and the ground uneven with temperatures during the race swinging from an icy sub-zero to a balmy 57 degrees Fahrenheit with 95% humidity. To keep spirits up, the course is studded with traditional Moldovan entertainment, think fiddles, flamenco-style dancers, babushkas (older woman in headscarves) clapping and singing and of course, wine.

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