Red wine and resveratrol: Good for your heart?

Resveratrol might be a key ingredient that makes red wine heart healthy. Learn the facts — and hype — about red wine and how it affects the 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 in red wine may increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) and protect against cholesterol buildup.

Health care providers don't recommend that you start drinking alcohol for heart benefits, especially if you have a family history of alcohol use disorder. Too much alcohol can have many harmful effects on the body.

But if you already enjoy a glass of red wine with your evening meal, drinking it in moderation may improve your heart health.

How is red wine heart healthy?

Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels in the heart. A polyphenol called resveratrol is one substance in red wine that's received attention for its health benefits.

Resveratrol in red wine

Resveratrol might help prevent damage to blood vessels, reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) and prevent blood clots.

However, studies on resveratrol are mixed. Some research shows that resveratrol could be linked to a lower risk of inflammation and blood clotting, which can lower the risk of 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.

Resveratrol in grapes, supplements and other foods

The resveratrol in red wine comes from the skin of grapes used to make wine. Because red wine is fermented with grape skins longer than white wine, red wine contains more resveratrol.

Simply eating grapes or drinking grape juice might be a way to get resveratrol without drinking alcohol. Red and purple grape juices may have some of the same heart-healthy benefits of red wine.

Peanuts, blueberries and cranberries also contain some resveratrol. It's not yet known how beneficial eating grapes or other foods might be compared with drinking red wine when it comes to promoting heart health. The amount of resveratrol in food and red wine can vary widely.

Resveratrol supplements also are available. However, side effects are uncertain and research suggests the body can't absorb most of the resveratrol in supplements.

How might alcohol help the heart?

There's still no clear evidence that beer, white wine or liquor aren't any better than red wine for heart health.

Various studies have shown that moderate amounts of all types of alcohol benefit the heart, not just alcohol found in red wine. It's thought that alcohol:

  • Raises HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol)
  • Reduces the formation of blood clots
  • Helps prevent artery damage caused by high levels of LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol)
  • May improve the function of the layer of cells that line the blood vessels

Drink in moderation — or not at all

The potential heart-healthy benefits of red wine and other alcoholic drinks continue to be studied. Those who drink moderate amounts of alcohol, including red wine, seem to have a lower risk of heart disease.

However, it's important to understand that studies comparing moderate drinkers to nondrinkers might overestimate the benefits of moderate drinking because nondrinkers might already have health problems.

More research is needed before we know whether red wine is better for the heart than other forms of alcohol, such as beer or spirits.

The American Heart Association and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute don't recommend that you start drinking alcohol just to prevent heart disease. Alcohol can be addictive and can cause or worsen other health problems.

Drinking too much alcohol increases the risk of:

  • Accidents, violence and suicide
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Heart failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver and pancreas diseases
  • Stroke
  • Weight gain and obesity

Avoid alcohol completely if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Have a personal or strong family history of alcohol use disorder
  • Have a liver or pancreas disease associated with alcohol use
  • Have heart failure or a weak heart
  • Take certain medications

If you have questions about the benefits and risks of alcohol, talk to your health care provider about specific recommendations for you.

If you already drink red wine, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means:

  • Up to one drink a day for women of all ages.
  • Up to one drink a day for men older than age 65.
  • Up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. The limit for men is higher because men generally weigh more than women and have more of an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol.

A drink is defined as:

  • 12 ounces (355 milliliters) of beer
  • 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of wine
  • 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) of 80-proof distilled spirits

From Mayo Clinic to your inbox

Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Jan. 14, 2022 See more In-depth

See also

  1. Angina
  2. Atkins Diet
  3. Automated external defibrillators: Do you need an AED?
  4. Blood Basics
  5. Blood tests for heart disease
  6. Bradycardia
  7. Screenings of newborns and athletes for genetic heart disease
  8. Transplant Advances
  9. Butter vs. margarine
  10. Calcium supplements: A risk factor for heart attack?
  11. Can vitamins help prevent a heart attack?
  12. Cardiac ablation
  13. Infographic: Cardiac Ablation
  14. Cardiac amyloidosis — Treatment options
  15. Cardiac amyloidosis — What is amyloid and how does it affect the heart
  16. Cardiac catheterization
  17. Cardioversion
  18. Chelation therapy for heart disease: Does it work?
  19. Chest X-rays
  20. Complete blood count (CBC)
  21. Coronary angiogram
  22. Coronary angioplasty and stents
  23. Coronary artery spasm: Cause for concern?
  24. Coronary bypass surgery
  25. Cough
  26. CT scan
  27. Daily aspirin therapy
  28. Dizziness
  29. Don't get tricked by these 3 heart-health myths
  30. Echocardiogram
  31. Ejection fraction: What does it measure?
  32. Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
  33. Heart transplant to treat dilated cardiomyopathy: Elmo's story
  34. Erectile dysfunction: A sign of heart disease?
  35. Exercise and chronic disease
  36. Fasting diet: Can it improve my heart health?
  37. Fatigue
  38. Flu Shot Prevents Heart Attack
  39. Flu shots and heart disease
  40. Grass-fed beef
  41. Healthy eating: One step at a time
  42. Healthy Heart for Life!
  43. Heart arrhythmia
  44. Heart attack
  45. Heart attack prevention: Should I avoid secondhand smoke?
  46. Heart attack symptoms
  47. Heart Attack Timing
  48. Heart disease
  49. Heart disease in women: Understand symptoms and risk factors
  50. Heart disease and oral health
  51. Heart-healthy diet: 8 steps to prevent heart disease
  52. Heart murmurs
  53. Heart transplant
  54. Herbal supplements and heart drugs
  55. Holter monitor
  56. Honey: An effective cough remedy?
  57. Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs)
  58. Leg swelling
  59. Limit bad fats, one step at a time
  60. Mediterranean diet
  61. Mediterranean diet recipes
  62. Menus for heart-healthy eating
  63. Need a snack? Go nuts!
  64. NSAIDs: Do they increase my risk of heart attack and stroke?
  65. Nuclear stress test
  66. Numbness
  67. Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health
  68. Omega-3 in fish
  69. Omega-6 fatty acids
  70. Infographic: Organ Donation Donate Life
  71. Organ transplant in highly sensitized patients
  72. Pacemaker
  73. Pericardial effusion
  74. Polypill: Does it treat heart disease?
  75. Protein: Heart-healthy sources
  76. Pseudoaneurysm: What causes it?
  77. Pulmonary edema
  78. Put fish on the menu
  79. Shortness of breath
  80. Silent heart attack
  81. Sitting risks: How harmful is too much sitting?
  82. Mediterranean diet
  83. Vegetable recipes
  84. Guide to gourmet salt
  85. Heart disease prevention
  86. Stress symptoms
  87. Stress test
  88. Tachycardia
  89. The Last Brother's Heart
  90. Integrative approaches to treating pain
  91. Nutrition and pain
  92. Pain rehabilitation
  93. Self-care approaches to treating pain
  94. Trans fat
  95. Triathlete Transplant
  96. Coronary angioplasty
  97. Video: Heart and circulatory system
  98. What is meant by the term "heart age"?
  99. Whole grains for a healthy heart
  100. Infographic: Women and Heart Disease