Is red wine good for your heart?
Senior Dietitian Victoria Taylor says:
Red wine is sometimes seen as a healthy choice, particularly as we associate it with the Mediterranean diet. But while it is often included in the traditional diet, it isn’t an essential part and should be drunk in moderation. It contains antioxidants, which reportedly have a range of benefits. However, other foods – including grapes, blueberries and strawberries – provide antioxidants without the negative effects of alcohol.
There is some evidence that a moderate intake of alcohol brings a small reduction in heart disease risk. But this is not the case for other conditions, such as stroke and vascular dementia, and alcohol is linked to some cancers.
BHF-funded research published in 2018 looking at the effect of alcohol consumption on heart and circulatory diseases concluded that the risks outweigh the benefits, and drinking more than the recommended limits will have a negative effect on your health.
It’s therefore not a good idea to drink wine to protect your heart. If you do drink alcohol, don’t exceed 14 units a week. A unit is 10ml of pure alcohol, so 14 units is about six medium (175ml) glasses of wine (13 per cent ABV) or six pints of lager or cider (four per cent ABV) – this is a maximum, not a target. If you do drink 14 units a week, spread them out and have some alcohol-free days, as binge drinking can increase your heart disease and stroke risk.
If you’re taking medications, you should also talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any effect alcohol might have.
Meet the expert
Victoria Taylor is the BHF’s Senior Dietitian with 20 years’ experience.