Heidi Godman

Non-alcoholic red wine may lower blood pressure

Scientific studies, the media, and even some doctors tout the heart health benefits of red wine. But if controlling blood pressure is important to you, consider this the next time you raise your glass: A new study published online in Circulation Research suggests that non-alcoholic red wine may be better at lowering blood pressure than regular red wine. Powerful antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may be more effective when there’s no alcohol to interfere with them.

“It is a very interesting study with provocative findings,” says Dr. Deepak Bhatt, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. I would like to believe the results. Of course, it is a small study with a limited duration of follow-up, so the findings do need to be confirmed in other, larger studies that follow patients for a longer period of time.”

In vino veritas

In wine there is truth, said Pliny the Elder in the first century AD. One truth about red wine is that too much can raise blood pressure and increase the risks of cancer, liver disease, and car accidents if you get behind the wheel after drinking.

In moderation, however, drinking red wine increases HDL (“good” cholesterol). It also protects against artery damage, which may lower blood pressure and help prevent heart disease. Polyphenols, in particular, may protect the lining of blood vessels in the heart. But most studies about red wine’s antioxidants have been conducted on animals, and were not able to sort out the contribution from alcohol.

The study

A team of Spanish researchers recruited 67 men between ages 55 and 75, all with diabetes or cardiovascular risk factors. Each man drank red wine daily for four weeks, then drank non-alcoholic red wine daily for four weeks, then drank gin daily for four weeks. The daily amounts were moderate: 10 ounces of wine or three ounces of gin. That’s about two drinks a day.

When the men drank non-alcoholic red wine, their systolic blood pressure (the top number of a blood pressure reading) decreased on average by 6 points. That’s enough to reduce heart disease risk by 14% and stroke risk by as much as 20%, according to the researchers. There was no change in blood pressure when the men drank gin, and only a small reduction in blood pressure when they drank regular red wine.

Researchers also found that the men’s plasma nitric oxide levels went up when they drank non-alcoholic red wine. That’s a good thing, because nitric oxide relaxes blood vessel walls, allowing better blood flow. The NO levels went up only slightly when the men drank regular red wine, and not at all when they drank gin.

The results of the study look like something to toast: you can get polyphenol and nitric oxide benefits without having to drink alcohol and risk the dangers that come with it. Not so fast, says Dr. Bhatt. “It makes scientific sense, but these findings really need to be confirmed in other studies,” he reminds us.

What the study doesn’t tell us is how non-alcoholic red wine stacks up against regular red wine for preventing heart attacks or other cardiovascular problems. An excellent discussion of the benefits and risks of drinking red wine and other alcoholic beverages is available on The Nutrition Source, a website published by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition.

What you should do

If you’re interested in lowering your blood pressure, Dr. Bhatt says drinking non-alcoholic red wine won’t hurt. “I wouldn’t ever make a clinical recommendation based on just one small study. However, if you happen to like non-alcoholic red wine and drink it anyway, it might be worthwhile to see if it helps your high blood pressure,” he says.

But don’t count on non-alcoholic red wine to lower high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, cautions Dr. Bhatt. Most people need a combination of exercise, a healthy diet, and medications to control high blood pressure.

Moderate exercise for 150 minutes per week and following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet can powerfully lower blood pressure, sometimes making medicines unnecessary. DASH is an eating plan featuring more fruits, vegetables and whole grains; foods with nutrients known to help reduce blood pressure, like calcium, potassium and magnesium; and reduced sodium and saturated fat intake.

High blood pressure is a big problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week that a third of all Americans have high blood pressure, and the majority of them don’t have it under control.

Those are sobering facts. If the Spanish study pans out, one possible solution won’t be too hard to swallow.

Related Information: Healthy Eating for a Healthy Heart

Comments:

  1. batti98

    Informative posting! I think this posting would be effective for all. Thank you for sharing with us.

  2. Dale

    My doctor said I am a ‘pre-diabetic’ What does that mean?

  3. Philo

    I am 61, have BP of 110/72, HDL 62, LDL 97 and blood glucose of 78. I can only think that my regimen of daily masturbation and a pack of Hostess Twinkies is the culprit.

  4. john sallie

    I am 51 now but feel like 35 and get a crisp clean bill of health in every check-up from my dr. If you open a capsule and put it in (even as much as a gallon) of water, it “converts it” visibly into red wine (but no alcohol!) I am thrilled about this report

  5. Michael

    Gathering all the information you can is extremely important with all health issues. High blood pressure is not to be taken lightly, it can lead to many health issues if left untreated.

  6. Vehicle2hire

    I was not aware of such non-alcoholic red wines are available. Could anyone please suggest some good names which we can buy? I will share details with others as well. good article.

  7. slim

    Thank you for your writing. Many people who loved and became a habit to drink red wine. But that needs attention is how to regulate the intensity and reasonable amount to drink red wine. Besides whether red wine can help in the diet?

  8. dr arthur bloom

    I cannot understand why any sensible Harvard man would drink something called “non-alcoholic” red wine – how about a taste of a good scotch before dinner and 1 glass of chianti classico or St Emilion with dinner, followed by a good night’s sleep? take the modest amount of alcohol out of wine and ya have grape juice!

    • Bart

      I love your post. And I agree, and that’s all great. I love my two glasses of (Spanish) red wine in the evening, and it IS great for a good night of sleep too. Unfortunately, however, more would be better. But not MORE alcohol, but MORE anthocyanins and polyphenols, including resveratrol. That’s why I have resorted to res-juventa and it has been very good for me during the past 10 years. Please also see my other posts on this subject.

  9. Greg

    Um, wouldn’t grape juice have the same benefit. Since wine is made from grape juice, wouldn’t grape juice be the smarter, cheaper alternative than a $3 bottle of non-alcoholic wine? The antioxidants are in the grapes. Suggesting non-alcoholic wine is still pandering to commercial interests. How about just buying a bunch of grapes at the store?

    • Obus

      The beneficial substances are in the skin of the grapes, and are removed with the skin when grapes are pressed for juice. In red wine, the skin is included in the fermentation process, and is remove when the process is finished. That makes a difference. But eating red grapes should have the same effect as drinking non-alcoholic red wine.

    • Pete

      The only problem with grape juice rather than non-alcoholic red wine might be that the grape juice could possibly contain a higher calorie count.

  10. Bart

    I am 52, blood pressure at levels of 110-120 and 70-80, low cholesterol levels and great skin complexion. I can not say for sure what it all is (but it is certainly not hereditary in my case!), I have a couple of healthy habits, but I can not help believing that res-juventa is the main “culprit” for my great shape and feeling like 35.

  11. Bart

    This confirms that I am doing the right thing by having taken for the past 10 years a dietary supplement from Spain which is made entirely of the Spanish blue grape’s pulp, seeds, skin and stems. It’s called res-juventa and every capsule is basically Spanish red wine without the alcohol. I am 51 now but feel like 35 and get a crisp clean bill of health in every check-up from my dr. If you open a capsule and put it in (even as much as a gallon) of water, it “converts it” visibly into red wine (but no alcohol!) I am thrilled about this report

  12. Lynn Anderson

    You can buy non-alcholic wine in most grocery stores that sell wine. There are several different brands.

  13. Gayle

    Ariel and Sutter make non-alcoholic red wine. Maybe grape juice would have the same affect??

    • Bart

      Most of the polyphenols of the grape are located on the skin and specially on the seeds. A grape juice contains less than 7% of pulp, skins and seeds. A must contains between 7 to 23% of them. A wine contains it all. So all of them have polyphenols, but wine have a much higher content. Consecuently when you de-alcoholize it, the polyphenolic content remains.
      That is why there is res-juventa. 100% from Spanish Blue grape vitis vinifera (pulp, skin, seeds and even stems). Has worked well for me for 10+ years. Every capsule (I take 2 a day) contains the equivalent in polyphenols (including resveratrol) and anthocyanins of 1 – 1.5 bottles of Spanish red wine.

  14. Roberta

    Good question! Where are they sold? I have never heard about it!

  15. pithaya achalabun

    what is nonalcoholic red wine and where can I BUY IT ?
    Thank you.

  16. Kelly Croftan

    It is very good news and a great research. Non-alcoholic red wine decreases blood pressure and many other heart problems, its really good to hear. People should know about this and they need to have for maintaining good health.

    • Bart

      yes, and you can get all the benefits (but on higher levels) of Spanish red wine with zero percent of alcohol through res-juventa. It has worked great for me for the past 10+ years. And all this time people thought I was kind of eccentric about this. Now, finally this is getting to become common knowledge and I appear “normal” again. But I had a head start of 10 years :-)