Hypertension, Red Wine and Resveratrol – What’s the Link?
It has been documented that the French nation enjoy better health all around and lower rates of high blood pressure and coronary disease than many other nations. This is partly due to their healthy diet. However it’s also due to their habit of drinking red wine on a daily basis. So what’s the link between lower rates of hypertension and red wine?
Red wine contains an antioxidant called resveratrol. Like other antioxidants resveratrol helps prevent hardening of the arteries and your blood platelets from clumping together.
Blood platelets are those things that enables your blood to clot – which is important if you cut yourself. But clots forming inside your circulatory system is not healthy and is the prime cause of strokes.
Resveratrol (and other similar compounds found in red wine) also helps stimulate nitric oxide production in your body. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator which means it helps your blood vessels relax and widen, which in turn reduces hypertension.
In other words, red wine helps keep your blood system in good health.
In case you wondered, resveratrol isn’t just found in red wine. It comes from the skin of the grapes. (This is why red wine contains more resveratrol than white wine. Red wine is fermented while the skins of the grapes are still on, while white wine is fermented after the skins have been removed.) You can get resveratrol simply from drinking grape juice but resveratrol isn’t water soluble. The alcohol in in wine extracts the resveratrol more efficiently and assists the absorption of it into your body.
So have a glass or two every day!
Hypertension and red wine – but what kind of red wine?
As far as I know, there’s no particular type of red wine which is best for hypertension. However, darker red wines tend to have higher resveratrol content. Say a Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, or Pinot noir (my favourite).
I have to admit that before learning of the beneficial qualities of red wine I was not a big drinker of wine. Now I buy a bottle or two a week and have learned a few lessons on buying wine.
First, don’t be fooled by price alone. Expensive wine is not necessarily the best wine and cheap red wine is not necessarily the worst. On the contrary, some of the cheaper red wines seem to have the most pleasant taste.
On a TV program this spring, wine tasting experts had to taste and rank various popular red wines on the market – blind (they weren’t allowed to see what brand of wine they were tasting). They all agreed on the best tasting wine. And it turned out to be one of the cheapest! So much for price as an indication of quality!
To get a great tasting red wine I would suggest you experiment with various types. Make a list of what you drink – the good, bad and ugly – so you know what to pick and what to avoid.
What if I don’t like red wine?
If red wine really isn’t your cup of tea, you can get resveratrol in plenty of other foods and drinks too. Red grapes and grape juice are the obvious ones. However, any of the red, blue and purple coloured fruits (especially berries) tend to contain resveratrol and other powerful antioxidants. You can even mix your red wine with a little red grape juice and/or throw in some berries to make it all a bit more fruity. Frozen berries and juice mixed with red wine make a lovely cooling sangria in the summer.
There’s also some evidence that just the alcohol in alcoholic drinks is beneficial for the heart and blood pressure – in moderate amounts of course 😉 See also our post on alcohol and blood pressure for the details: alcohol and high blood pressure
Beyond red wine – other pleasurable ways to reduce hypertension
If you’re serious about lowering your blood pressure, there’s a lot more you can do than just drinking a wee bit of wine. For a start there are many many foods and drinks which are beneficial for high blood pressure. These include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, herbs, spices, teas, juices, and yes, alcoholic drinks. And certain kinds of chocolate. Lowering your blood pressure naturally really doesn’t have to be about self-denial.
You just have to know which of the good things in life are genuinely good for your health – and you’ll be surprised by how many of them are. We (my partner Alison and I) have summarised them in our new book which contains everything you need to know about lowering your blood pressure without medications. Have a look at it here:
It’s packed with tasty tips on how you can adjust your diet to lower your blood pressure. It also includes different kinds of exercise you can do to bring your blood pressure down. Some of these you can even do while sitting down watching TV. And it gives tips on how to easily integrate these into your daily life – the point being (again) that you don’t have to suffer to lower your blood pressure naturally – you can enjoy it 🙂
As well as diet and exercise, another major cause of high blood pressure is stress. So the book also contains a range of techniques you can use to lower your stress levels and just generally relax more.
Click on the link above for more details and a free sample.