Health and Lifestyle for the over 50s

Can Red Wine Help Prevent Heart Disease?

Posted by The Best of Health
Categories: Heart Related / Health and Wellbeing /

Red wine & grapesHeart disease is the number one cause of death in the UK, US and other industrialised countries. Scientists have made exciting advances in recent years but the disease persists as a leading cause of illness and death.

Recent research has focused on the micro-organisms in the gut and the effect that gut bacteria have on various aspects of our health. Red wine contains a compound called resveratrol which could reduce the risk of heart disease by changing the gut microbiome. This gut microbiome could have a significant impact on the development of atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is a condition where the arteries become narrowed and hardened due to a build up of plaque around the artery walls. The plaque consists of lipids or fats, calcium and other substances and it hardens with time. This restricts the arteries and disrupts the flow of oxygen-rich blood around the body. This potentially causes blood clots that can result in life-threatening conditions such as heart attack, stroke, vascular dementia and other cardiovascular diseases.

Athersclerosis diagram

Red wine contains a plant compound, resveratrol, that occurs naturally in grapes, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and apples. Resveratrol is a polyphenol believed to have antioxidant properties that may protect against conditions such as heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Researchers in China carried out a series of mouse experiments to find out more about how resveratrol might protect against atherosclerosis. They wanted to see the effect of the compound on the bacteria in the gut. They found that resveratrol reduced levels of trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) which is known to be a contributory factor in the development of atherosclerosis. It also inhibited the gut bacteria’s production of trimethylamine or TMA which is necessary for the production of TMAO.

Dr Mi, PhD from the team at the Research Centre for Nutrition and Food Safety in Chongqing, China who led the team said, ” Our results offer new insights into the mechanisms responsible for resveratrol’s anti-atherosclerosis effects and indicate that gut microbiota may become an interesting target for pharmacological or dietary interventions to decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.”

The next step will be to conduct research with humans and to further define the role of resveratrol in heart disease.

We have reported on the possible health benefits of red wine in previous articles. If you would like to read more please click on the links below:

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