Red wine: is a glass or two heart-healthy?

A native Californian who has been a wine drinker since early adulthood, Candace Viox beats a loud drum about the health benefits of one 5-ounce glass of red wine each day for women, and two for men.

And she has the perfect platform on which to do so, as owner of Water Into Wine bistro & lounge, 607 N. Campbell Station Road, since May 2016.

About the heart benefits of red wine, “I know that one or two glasses of 5 ounces is wonderful for your heart,” she said.

In addition to personal experience, physician advocacy and testimonials from her customers, Viox cites various Internet studies. “Probably in the last 20 years they’ve been researching and looking at all of this stuff,” she said.

Viox said red wine, not white wine, “has the dark red skins that have resveratrol, that’s one of the key ingredients. … It’s that dark antioxidant in the skins.”

Also unlike other forms of alcoholic beverages, according to Viox, “Wine contains phenols, and that’s a natural blood thinner that actually is an aspirin.

“And that’s why (experts) have said that red wine can actually help with strokes and blood clots,” she added. “It also has silicons, and that’s a mineral that your bones actually absorb and give you stronger bones.”

Moreover, “There have been people come into the wine bar and share with me — they don’t drink a lot of wine but they’re having their one glass — and they’ve told me they were able to get off their cholesterol medication,” Viox said. One man came in, and he was sharing a story that he’s gotten completely off three different blood medications and cholesterol medicines. He had one glass of wine with his lunch and went home.”

“Many studies have shown that light to moderate red wine consumption can help protect your heart against cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Malcolm Foster, an interventional cardiologist with Tennova Healthcare at Turkey Creek Medical Center. “Researchers theorize these protective effects come from compounds in the wine raising your ‘good,’ or HDL, cholesterol and boosting artery health, reducing your risk of forming blood clots.”

However, “there really isn’t anything special about red wine,” said Dr. David Perkel, cardiologist at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. “You could have a beer or have a drink of liquor. … Alcohol of any form, not just red wine, appears to reduce your risk for coronary artery disease.”

The key is moderate alcohol consumption. “We know that people who drink moderately live the longest,” Perkel said. “… That’s why we support moderate drinking, an average of one to two drinks a day because that appears to be the best balance between a protective effect of preventing heart attacks and not drinking too much, where you end up with heart rhythm problems, congestive heart failure or liver problems.”

Moreover, “We know that people who drink moderately appear to have less coronary artery disease than people who don’t drink,” he said. “Coronary artery disease includes heart attacks, sudden death from a heart attack or a blockage requiring a stent or bypass surgery.

As for an explanation of moderate drinking’s heart benefits, “I think it all comes down to inflammation, and alcohol has anti-inflammatory properties,” Perkel said. “I think that’s part of the reason why alcohol prevents coronary disease.”

However, among those already diagnosed with a heart issue, “my patients with congestive heart failure” can be among “some rare people whose alcohol (consumption) could be toxic to the heart muscle,” he said. “If you’ve got

a weak heart muscle, I usually recommend that you not drink alcohol.”

Moreover, “atrial fibulation is one of the most common (heart) rhythm abnormalities, and it’s absolutely precipitated by alcohol use,” Perkel said. “We see a big spike around the holidays when families are getting together and drinking. We get a lot of a-fib patients.”

Although saying, “People who live the shortest are actually the non-drinkers,” he added, “I don’t tell people to start drinking who are non-drinkers.”