Red Wine & The Heart: What You Must Know First

Sandra Otobo, Public Health, LECC

08 June 2018

Have you ever topped off your glass of cabernet or pinot noir while saying, “Hey, it’s good for my heart, right?” 

This widely held impression dates back to a catchphrase coined in the late 1980s: the French Paradox. The French paradoxsummarizes the apparently paradoxical epidemiological observation that French people have a relatively low incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD), while having a diet relatively rich in saturated fats, in apparent contradiction to the widely held belief that the high consumption of such fats is a risk factor for CHD.


Photograph: Unknown

Now the French diet can be summed up in one sentence: eat small portions of high-quality foods less often. The Nigerian sized servings are substantially larger than our Parisian counterparts. Research shows that a carton of yogurt in the United States/West Africa was 82% larger than a Paris yogurt; a soft drink was 52% larger, a hot dog 63% larger, and a candy bar 41% larger.

On the other hand,an average Nigerian sincerely doesn’t care about food values and its content, for example ‘starch’ or’ carbohydrates’ “Man must wak!” This phrase also means that a man has to eat! He doesn’t care as long as that is called food and is eatable.

Alcoholic beverages have been consumed for thousands of years, attracting great human interest for social, personal, and religious occasions. They have long been debated to confer cardio protective benefits.

Found in red and purple grape skins, polyphenols theoretically explain wine’s heart-protecting properties and includes resveratrol, a compound that’s heavily advertised as a heart-protecting and anti-aging supplement. Although research in mice is compelling, there’s zero evidence of any benefit for people who take resveratrol supplements. And you’d have to drink a hundred to a thousand glasses of red wine daily to get an amount equivalent to the doses that improved health in mice. All of the research showing that people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol have lower rates of heart disease is observational. Such studies can’t prove cause and effect, only associations. However, the evidence that drinking red wine in particular (or alcohol in general, for that matter) can help you avoid heart disease is pretty weak.

“Drinking alcohol is never the or an issue. The amount of alcohol one drinks, how often and what it is mixed with is what is important. Drinking excessive alcohol definitely has its health risks, especially on the heart. Those risks include increased level of fats in the blood, high blood pressure which when persistent leads to hypertension” page 7, 1stEdition Chiron Health and Prevention Magazine.

To date, the health effects of alcohol have never been tested in a long-term, randomized trial. The true reason behind the good health of the French is probably the fact that they eat more whole foods and live overall healthier lifestyles. Moderate drinking — defined as one drink per day for healthy women and two drinks per day for healthy men — is widely considered safe.