Wine Information Council

Wine Information Council

A recent review examined the cardiovascular effects of chocolate and wine, two pleasures for the palate and a rich source of bioactive compounds: polyphenols. It was carried out to verify recent reports on the impact of chocolate and wine consumption on cardiovascular health, with a particular focus on atherosclerosis. The data of this review confirmed the cardioprotective properties of chocolate and wine when consumed in moderation:  30-50 g for chocolate and 130/250 ml for wine, respectively for men and women. The excessive consumption of both products, however, can lead to premature death and excessive calories to obesity and other related non-communicable diseases.

There is a general consensus on a lower risk of CVD in moderate drinkers but scientists are still debating whether these effects are due to the alcohol alone or to the non-alcoholic ingredients in wine (polyphenolic compounds). These issues may only be solved by carrying out randomized controlled trials assessing the effects of wine compared to other alcoholic beverages.    

 

Source: Sperkowska B, Murawska J, Przybylska A, Gackowski M, Kruszewski S, Durmowicz M, Rutkowska D. Cardiovascular Effects of Chocolate and Wine-Narrative Review. Nutrients. 2021 Nov 26;13(12):4269. doi: 10.3390/nu13124269. PMID: 34959821; PMCID: PMC8704773.

For more information about this abstract, click here.

From time to time new “miraculous” cures that supposedly protect against a Covid-19 infection appear in the media. To mention the latest: a team of British and Chinese scientists seems to have found promising news for wine drinkers when it comes to Covid-19 risk and have presented some interesting and novel findings.

 

What is it all about?

The data of almost 474,000 subjects from the UK biobank database were analysed, with the goal to find out more about the relationship between the consumption of alcoholic beverages and the Covid-19 risk.

The researchers divided the participants into groups according to their drinking status (non-drinker, former drinker and current drinker).,fThe study included approximately 16.000 individuals (average age: 69 ) who tested positive for Covid-19.

The study results showed that the consumption of different alcoholic beverages was associated with different chances of Covid-19 infection. Individuals who consumed red wine (above or double above the guidelines *) had a 17% lower risk to get infected with the Covid-19 virus. Those who consumed between one and four glasses of white wine (including sparkling wine) had an 8% lower Covid-19 infection risk compared to non-drinkers.

On the other hand, consumption of beer, cider and spirits increased the Covid-19 risk, regardless of the frequency and amount of alcohol intake compared to non-drinkers.

The researchers concluded that subjects who usually consumed red wine, white wine and champagne above the guidelines (*) appeared to have a reduced risk of Covid-19.

A possible explanation for the protective effect of wine could be the polyphenols and their antioxidant properties. The protective effect of red wine against Covid-19 was significant, independent of the frequency of alcohol intake, probably due to the high concentration of phenolic compounds in this beverage, compared to other alcoholic beverages 

However, despite the results of their study, the researchers warn that heavy drinking is not recommended for any alcoholic beverage.

 

What does it mean?

Even though this is a large prospective study and the results are promising and interesting, there are a number of limitations to consider before drawing wrong conclusions that wine consumption can be a “miraculous” protection against Covid-19 :

  • This is an observational study that cannot examine cause and effect;
  • The participants in this UK-based study have a restricted age range (average age is 69) and the results cannot represent the entire population or can be transferred to other countries;
  • It is not known whether these findings are applicable to younger populations and other ethnic groups;
  • The alcohol drinking habits of the participants were assessed at baseline and potential changes during the Covid-19 pandemic are not known;
  • Other lifestyle factors (such diet, smoking, body weight, exercise, general health status) might affect the Covid-19 risk.

Therefore, the researchers suggest that public health guidance should focus on reducing the risk of Covid-19 by advocating healthy lifestyle habits.

Thus, nothing speaks against a glass of wine with a meal (Mediterranean style) and in the context of a healthy lifestyle, however, it is not recommended to drink wine to avoid a Covid-19 infection.

 

(*) The existing UK guidelines, used as a reference in this study:

 – up to 14 units a week with one small glass of wine accounting for 1.5 units and approx. 500 ml of lower-strength beer for two units.

If you want to know about Wine in Moderation drinking guidelines and discover what the recommendations in your country are, click here.

 

Source: Dai XJ, Tan L, Ren L, Shao Y, Tao W, Wang Y. COVID-19 Risk Appears to Vary Across Different Alcoholic Beverages. Front Nutr. 2022 Jan 3;8:772700. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2021.772700. PMID: 35047542; PMCID: PMC8761797.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2021.772700/full 

For more information about this abstract, click here.

 

 

 

Australian researchers conducted a study on the risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality associated with the consumption of alcoholic beverages in initially healthy, older individuals. They found that moderate drinking was related to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a lower mortality from all causes when compared to no abstaining.

19,114 community-dwelling individuals in Australia and the USA over the age of 70 were followed over a period of four years. The information about their intake of alcoholic beverages was received via questionnaire and former alcohol consumers who may have stopped drinking for various health reasons were excluded. The results suggested that moderate drinkers had a significantly reduced risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those participants who never consumed any alcoholic beverage, regardless of gender.

The authors warned, however, that the findings need to be interpreted with caution, as the participants were all initially healthy without prior incidence of cardiovascular disease or other severe diseases and may have been more physically and socially active than the wider ageing population.

 

Source: Johannes T Neumann, Rosanne Freak-Poli, Suzanne G Orchard, Rory Wolfe, Christopher M Reid, Andrew M Tonkin, Lawrence J Beilin, John J McNeil, Joanne Ryan, Robyn L Woods, Alcohol consumption and risks of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality in healthy older adults, European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 2021;, zwab177, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurjpc/zwab177

For more information about this abstract, click here.

The current study appeared in the media headlines suggesting that moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages or the “odd glass of wine” after all does not confer any health benefits.

What has been done?

The study examined the relationship between the consumption of alcoholic beverages and all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality among a 4075 adults, aged 18-64, residing in and around a single city in northern Germany.

The authors spent a considerable effort identifying abstainers (individuals who reported not drinking any alcohol in the past year) in order to separate those who would likely be at increased mortality risk due to one or more health risk factors (alcohol use disorder, smoking, or self-rated poor health). Their hypothesis was that abstainers are mostly former drinkers and are more likely to be unhealthy (“sick quitters”); if so, the poor health of the abstainers’ group would make the moderate drinker group appear to have lower risk than it actually has.

The results indicated that both current and former risky drinking was associated with increased mortality risk. Smoking and self-reported fair or poor health were also independently associated with increased risk. The study did not provide an estimate of the independent effect of former heavy drinking, from smoking or health status.

The findings from the current study are generally consistent with a large body of previous research and underscore the importance of separating former drinkers from lifetime abstainers when examining the association between the consumption of alcoholic beverages and mortality or other health outcomes. Results also confirm other studies suggesting a combined effect of heavy drinking and smoking on mortality risk.

However, the results of this study may not be generalizable to other populations with different demographics, drinking patterns, or smoking prevalence. In addition, there was no distinction between the type of alcoholic beverages, drinking patterns (with the meal, alternating with water), diet and other lifestyle factors that may influence the disease and mortality risk were not assessed.

 

Source: John, U., Rumpf, H. J., Hanke, M., & Meyer, C. (2021). Alcohol abstinence and mortality in a general population sample of adults in Germany: A cohort study. PLoS medicine, 18(11), e1003819. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003819

For more information about this abstract, click here.

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