Red Wine Beats Gin for Heart Health

Wine Tops Gin in Fighting Inflammation Linked to Heart Disease

From the WebMD Archives

Aug. 13, 2004 -- James Bond may prefer his martinis, but a new study shows red wine beats gin, shaken or stirred, when it comes to heart health.

Researchers found drinking moderate amounts of both alcoholic beverages had beneficial effects in reducing inflammation in the blood, which has been linked to artery-clogging plaque buildup and heart disease. But red wine had a significantly greater effect on fighting inflammation in the blood.

"It's clear from these results that while drinking some form of alcohol lowers inflammatory markers, red wine has a much greater effect than gin," says Emanuel Rubin, MD, a pathology professor at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, in a news release.

Researchers say that many studies have linked drinking alcohol, especially red wine, to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. But few studies have compared the effects of different types of alcoholic beverages in reducing risk factors for heart attack and stroke, such as inflammatory markers in the blood.

High levels of C-reactive protein and other markers of inflammation in the blood are risk factors that have been implicated in heart disease and stroke, says Rubin.

Red Wine Fights Clogged Arteries

In the study, 40 healthy men consumed 30 grams of ethanol either in the form of two glasses (about 10 ounces) of red wine (Merlot) or 3.3 ounces of gin with dinner each day for 28 days. All of the participants also followed relatively the same diet and exercise program during the study.

Researchers analyzed blood samples before and after the study, and found both wine and gin had anti-inflammatory effects.

Both groups had lower levels of fibrinogen, which clots blood and is a risk factor for heart attack. They also had lower levels of the inflammatory marker IL-1.

But those who drunk red wine also had lower levels of C-reactive protein and two other inflammatory markers.

Researchers say the antioxidant effects of the polyphenols found in red wine, but not in gin, are likely responsible for the additional heart-healthy effects. Beer and whisky also have high levels of polyphenols.

Rubin says one or two glasses of red wine a day is probably beneficial, but these results provide only indirect evidence of a protective effect against heart disease.

Show Sources

SOURCES: Estruch, R. Atherosclerosis, July 2004; vol 175: pp 117-125. News release, Thomas Jefferson University.

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