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Red Wine May Limit Heart Damage

If you read my blogs regularly, you've heard much about the main benefit of drinking red wine: Resveratrol, a compound that naturally occurs in grapes and a few other plants. This compound is a known cancer fighter and belongs to the family of polyphenols that combat damaging free radicals in the body. New research on rat heart cells suggests resveratrol may protect heart tissue by limiting the effects of cardiac fibrosis.

Diseases such as hypertension and heart failure can cause fibrosis, a hardening or stiffening of the heart tissue. This condition arises when heart cells called cardiac fibroblasts are activated. These cells secrete collagen, a protein that provides structural support for the heart. Overactive cardiac fibroblasts cause fibrosis of the heart tissue, which then loses its ability to efficiently pump blood, researchers said.

Treating rat cardiac fibroblasts cells with resveratrol prevented the actions of angiotensin II, a potent hormone. In the case of hypertension and heart failure, this hormone is produced at a high level, which is the body's way of trying to repair damage to the heart and increase blood pressure. But the plan usually backfires, as angiotensin II causes cardiac fibroblast production to go into overdrive, and, as a result, these cells produce excessive amounts of collagen - a fibrous substance found in bone, tendons, ligaments and other connective tissues -- leading to a stiffening of the heart muscle.

Although this news sounds pretty positive, I strongly urge you to use some caution. Drinking about one glass of red wine each day may yield some benefit, but consuming two or more glasses (of wine or any alcoholic beverage) may offset the benefit and actually INCREASE your risk of certain cancers. People with a history of alcohol abuse or liver disease should not drink alcohol at all. In addition, people with diabetes and hypertension should limit their intake of alcohol as well.

If you insist on drinking red wine, check the growing conditions of the grapes and how the wine is made. If the wine isn't made with organic grapes, it may not contain resveratrol, which will completely rule out the benefits of the wine.

Honestly, I do not advocate drinking red wine at all. I am convinced the alcohol contained in it is poisonous and will unbalance your hormones.

EurekAlert December 7, 2004

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