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Drink wine only prevents cardiovascular disease when in combination with exercise

By Benjamin Rotholtz | March 15th, 2017

Wine only protects against cardiovascular disease in people who exercise, according to results from the In Vino Veritas (IVV) study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress. The study used a randomised trial comparing the effects of red and white wine on markers of atherosclerosis in people at mild to moderate risk of cardiovascular disease, and found that moderate wine drinking was only protective in people who exercised and that red and white wine produced the same results.

The IVV study included 146 people with mild to moderate risk of cardiovascular disease according to the HeartScore. Participants were randomised to one year of moderate consumption of red wine (Pinot Noir) or white wine (Chardonnay-Pinot) from the same year and wine region. Moderate consumption was the World Health Organization definition of 0.2 L for women and 0.3 L for men, a maximum of five times a week. The primary endpoint was the level of HDL cholesterol at one year. Secondary endpoints were levels of other markers of atherosclerosis including LDL cholesterol. Participants consumed their usual diet.

Participants kept a logbook on their consumption of wine and other alcoholic beverages, medication use, and amount and type of exercise. The researchers found that there was no difference between HDL cholesterol levels at the beginning of the study compared to one year in either the red or white wine groups. LDL cholesterol was lower in both groups at one year while total cholesterol was lower only in the red wine group. As a rise in HDL cholesterol is the main indication of a protective effect against CVD, researchers conclude that neither red nor white wine had any impact on study participants as a whole.

However, the positive and continuous result was found in the subgroup of patients who took more exercise, which means regular exercise at least twice a week, plus the wine consumption. In this group HDL cholesterol increased and LDL and total cholesterol decreased in the red and white wine groups. The researcher postulated that here may be some synergy between the low dose of ethyl alcohol in wine and exercise which is protective against CVD.

Evidence suggesting that mild to moderate consumption of wine protects against cardiovascular disease has been accumulating since the early 1990s. In particular, retrospective studies have found that wine increases levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol. The IVV study further clarified that the combination of moderate wine drinking plus regular exercise improves markers of atherosclerosis, suggesting that this combination is protective against cardiovascular disease.

Thanks for reading.

Journal Reference: European Society of Cardiology. “Wine only protects against cardiovascular disease in people who exercise, study finds.” 31 August 2014.

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