Red wine and resveratrol: Good for your heart?

Red wine and something in red wine called resveratrol might be heart healthy. Find out the facts, and hype, regarding red wine and its impact on your heart.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Red wine, in moderation, has long been thought of as heart healthy. The alcohol and certain substances in red wine called antioxidants may help prevent coronary artery disease, the condition that leads to heart attacks.

Any links between red wine and fewer heart attacks aren't completely understood. But part of the benefit might be that antioxidants may increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) and protect against cholesterol buildup.

While the news about red wine might sound great if you enjoy a glass of red wine with your evening meal, doctors are wary of encouraging anyone to start drinking alcohol, especially if you have a family history of alcohol abuse. Too much alcohol can have many harmful effects on your body.

Still, many doctors agree that something in red wine appears to help your heart. It's possible that antioxidants, such as flavonoids or a substance called resveratrol, have heart-healthy benefits.

How is red wine heart healthy?

Red wine seems to have heart-healthy benefits. But it's possible that red wine isn't any better than beer, white wine or liquor for heart health. There's still no clear evidence that red wine is better than other forms of alcohol when it comes to possible heart-healthy benefits.

Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. A polyphenol called resveratrol is one substance in red wine that's gotten attention.

Resveratrol in red wine

Resveratrol might be a key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) and prevents blood clots. Some research shows that resveratrol could be linked to a lower risk of inflammation and blood clotting, which can lead to heart disease. But other studies found no benefits from resveratrol in preventing heart disease.

More research is needed to determine if resveratrol lowers the risk of inflammation and blood clotting.

Nov. 12, 2016 See more In-depth