Here's to a healthier heart

It's the moment you dread when you go for a medical - when you're asked about your alcohol consumption. I was seeing a cardiologist, having been diagnosed with angina - ironically after years of a health-conscious diet low in saturated fat, reasonable fitness and never having smoked. "How much do you drink?" she asked. Sheepishly, I suggested maybe a glass or two of wine or beer most nights. "You need to drink red wine, not white or rosé. One glass a day isn't enough; two's better, preferably three," came the reply. "It's very good for your blood vessels."

The instruction was almost as much of a shock as the onset of my angina, the chest pain that occurs when your heart muscle isn't getting enough oxygen because of reduced blood flow caused by blockages (atheroma) in the arteries.

Drinking three glasses of red wine daily, much of which contains up to 15% alcohol, is well over the British Heart Foundation's (BHF) recommended drinking limits. These are based on three to four units of alcohol a day for a man (two to three for a woman) where each unit is 125ml - a small glass - of 8% strength wine. These days, it's much easier to find a beer at that strength than such a weak wine.

The health virtues of a Mediterranean-style diet with plenty of fruit and veg, oily fish and olive oil, washed down with red wine, are well known. But is the wine really significant?

Drunk in moderation, and preferably with food so that the alcohol absorption is slowed, all the population studies indicate that it is. But drink it in excess and, as recent studies on the dangers of hazardous drinking testify, it will do you much more harm than good.

Source - Guardian

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