A study from Spain released this month confirms what people who advocate abstinence from alcohol have long believed: it isn’t the alcohol that makes red wine good for you; it’s the grapes.

While red wine lovers welcomed earlier studies suggesting that drinking moderate amounts of red wine was beneficial to one’s health, recent research may taste sour. Spanish researchers went the extra mile in researching the effects of alcohol in wine.  They gave groups of men who were at-risk for coronary heart disease and had high blood pressure red wine and non-alcoholic red wine. They also gave a control group only gin to see if it was really the alcohol and not the ingredients in wine that was beneficial.

“The study, published last week in Circulation Research, concludes that the blood-pressure-lowering effects of red wine are attributable not to its alcohol content, but to the beneficial chemicals called polyphenols that it contains, even in its non-alcoholic form,” according to a September 10, 2012, New York Times health blog.

In fact, the study found that the men drinking the non-alcoholic wine had the best result.  In other words, it appears that the alcohol in wine actually mutes the health benefits of the polyphenols found in grapes. And no surprise to us, the group drinking just gin had no measurable health benefit.

Most doctors and health experts agree: alcohol consumption is not healthy or safe. Its use accounts for 2.5 million death per year and is the third largest risk factor for premature mortality, disability and loss of health, according to the World Health Organization. Furthermore, alcohol use is linked to cancers of the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, liver, colon and breast. It actually raises blood pressure, weakens the heart and immune system, and it may also increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.

So, is the only way to get the maximum heart strengthening, blood pressure lowering benefits of grapes achieved from drinking non-alcoholic wine? Thankfully no. By going straight to the source of wine–Concord grapes–you can get the benefits without having to purchase what is basically vinted and bottled grape juice.

Concord grapes have one of the highest antioxidant scores among fruit. Also, they contain several different types of polyphenols including resveratrol, the polyphenol that is believed to possess the healing properties in grapes and is found mostly in the skin and seeds.

If you want to protect your heart and your mind, drink Welch’s pure 100% grape juice (made using the entire Concord grape including the skin and seeds), consider taking a natural resveratrol supplement, or the best option: eat red or purple grapes fresh from the vine and reap the benefits of eating the whole fruit in its original package. If you want to minimize the health benefits from grapes, add alcohol.


About the Author

Patti Guthrie

Contributing Writer

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