The good news for red wine loversis that it really can cut your blood pressure, but the bad news is that alcohol has to be removed first.
Non-alcoholic red wine increased participants' levels of nitric oxide, which helped decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, according to a new study in the American Heart Association journal Circulation Research.
The study shows for the first time that natural antioxidant compounds in red wine, not the alcohol, are good for heart health.
Nitric oxide is a molecule in the body that helps blood vessels relax and allows more blood to reach your heart and organs, the researchers said.
Researchers studied 67 men with diabetes or three or more cardiovascular risk factors who ate a common diet plus one of the following drinks: about 10 ounces of red wine, non-alcoholic red wine or about 3 ounces of gin.
All the men tried each diet/beverage combination for 4 weeks. The red wine and nonalcoholic wine contained equal amounts of polyphenols, an antioxidant that decreases blood pressure.
During the red wine phase, the men had very little reduction in blood pressure and there was no change while drinking gin.
However, after drinking non-alcoholic red wine, blood pressure decreased by about 6mmHg in systolic and 2mmHg in diastolic blood pressure, possibly reducing the risk of heart disease by 14% and stroke by as much as 20%.
Researchers concluded that the alcohol in red wine weakens its ability to lower blood pressure. But polyphenols, still present after alcohol is removed from wine, are likely the beneficial element in wine.