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Wine, Salt, and Your Heart: Confusion Abounds

Survey Shows Many Americans Misunderstand the Effects of Wine and Salt on Heart Health
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

April 26, 2011 -- Most Americans believe that drinking red wine is good for the heart but may not fully understand that failure to limit the amount they drink could lead to serious health problems, according to a new survey by the American Heart Association (AHA).

What’s more, most people also mistakenly believe that sea salt is a good low-sodium alternative to table salt, the survey shows.

The poll of 1,000 adults was conducted to help the AHA gauge American perceptions about wine and sodium consumption as those substances relate to heart health.

The AHA says drinking of any type of alcohol should be limited to no more than two drinks per day for men and one for women. That’s about 8 ounces of wine for men and 4 ounces for women.

How Heavy Drinking Affects Health

The AHA says in a statement that heavy and regular drinking of alcohol -- whether wine, beer, or spirits -- can dramatically increase blood pressure, cause heart failure, lead to stroke and other health problems, and contribute to high triglycerides, alcoholism, suicide, accidents, and obesity.

It’s true, the AHA says, that limited wine intake seems to be good for the heart, and 76% of people surveyed knew that.

However, only 30% of those questioned were aware of the AHA’s recommended limits for daily wine drinking.

“This survey shows that we need to do a better job of educating people about the heart-health risks of overconsumption of wine, especially its possible role in increasing blood pressure,” says AHA spokesman Gerald Fletcher, MD, a professor of medicine-cardiovascular diseases at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Jacksonville, Fla.

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