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Cheers! A cheeky glass or two of red wine over Christmas could actually be good for you, says expert.

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A leading testing expert says moderate wine consumption this Christmas could actually reduce your risk of heart disease. Scientists call this the ‘The French Paradox’. It could also balance your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes and dementia.


Every Christmas, there are numerous warnings in the press and on social media about the dangers of consuming too much food and alcohol. However, a leading medical expert says red wine not only contains a range of vitamins and minerals, but moderate consumption may potentially reduce your risk of many serious health conditions, including heart disease, high cholesterol, cancer, diabetes and dementia.

Dr Avinash Hari Narayanan (MBChB), Clinical Lead at London Medical Laboratory, says: ‘Research published in the journal “Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases” reveals that moderate consumption of red wine has a number of health benefits. Perhaps most interestingly, moderate alcohol consumption in healthy adults and in cardiovascular patients protects against “total mortality”. In other words, the risk of death from all causes is reduced for moderate drinkers of all alcohol (including wine) compared to abstainers or heavy drinkers. The precise cause and effect is open to interpretation but we can consider moderate amounts of alcohol may have a potentially health-protective effect.

Cholesterol levels: ‘Many people still think of all cholesterol as harmful. It’s true that LDL “bad” cholesterol transports fats to your arteries, leading to a build-up of plaque, resulting in the vessel disease “atherosclerosis”. On the other hand, HDL “good” cholesterol, at healthy levels in your blood, navigates fat molecules away from blood vessels, preventing plaque build-up in your arteries. A paper published in the journal Molecules reveals that several studies show evidence that light–moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a higher level of HDL cholesterol. It also helps prevent artery damage from high levels of LDL cholesterol. Red wine may also improve the function of cells lining the blood vessels, keeping blood circulation flowing smoothly.

Heart: ‘The same paper also reveals that light to moderate drinking of red wine has been proposed as a possible explanation for the epidemiological phenomenon known as “The French Paradox”.  The French Paradox is that France’s population shows lower coronary heart disease incidence and mortality rates compared with other Western populations, despite the fact their diets contain higher amounts of total fat and saturated fatty acids. The study concludes that “a moderate intake of red wine may produce cardioprotective effects”.

Cancer: ‘Red wine is a good source of antioxidants. A study in the “International Journal of Molecular Sciences” confirms the theory that antioxidant compounds in red wine called “polyphenols” can block the formation of cancer cells and inhibit the growth of tumours. Sadly for white wine drinkers, it also confirmed a previous hypothesis that red wine has stronger anti-cancer activities than white wine.

Diabetes:  ‘Moderate alcohol consumption is thought to specifically lower the risk of type-2 diabetes. Randomised clinical trials show that moderate alcohol intake has beneficial effects on insulin concentrations and insulin sensitivity in non-diabetic patients, suggesting that moderate alcohol consumption decreases the risk of type-2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity. Research published in “Diabetes Care” shows that moderate alcohol consumption significantly decreased glucose levels amongst participants tested after fasting.

Dementia: ‘There are many studies that show moderate drinking reduces the risk of dementia. Research in JAMA – the Journal of the American Medical Association – reveals that, compared with abstention, consumption of 1 to 6 drinks weekly is associated with a lower incidence of dementia among older adults. A major cardiovascular health study of 5,888 men and women aged 65 years or older found abstainers had twice the risk of dementia compared to those who drank between 1 and 6 drinks per week.

Vitamins and minerals: ‘No one is claiming that a swift Merlot counts towards your “five a day”, but a glass of red wine does provide 0.2 mg of manganese, or about 10% of your daily recommended needs. You’ll also get small amounts of iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium from red wine.

‘Obviously, the key word when talking about the consumption of wine, or any other alcohol, is “moderation”. Every benefit I’ve discussed is counteracted by too much alcohol. Long-term heavy drinking can lead to heart disease, liver disease and increased cancer risk. Similarly, Diabetes UK says excess alcohol intake is associated with an increased risk of type-2 diabetes, and complications in people with pre-existing diabetes. The Alzheimer’s Society warns regularly drinking too much alcohol over many years can lead to alcohol-related “dementia”, a type of alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD). Finally, heavy alcohol consumption compromises bone health, reduces bone density and increases the risk of osteoporosis, warns America’s National Institute of Alcohol Abuse.

‘If people are concerned about their cholesterol levels as we approach Christmas, it’s best to get them checked. With GP surgeries extremely busy at this time of year, it’s important to recognise that there are alternatives. London Medical Laboratory’s revolutionary and convenient home finger-prick Cholesterol Profile test measures total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, HDL “good” cholesterol, non-HDL (a newly adopted, more accurate, measure) and other key markers. It can be taken at home through the post, or at one of the many drop-in clinics that offer these tests across London and nationwide in over 120 selected pharmacies and health stores. For full details, see:

Photo by Kelsey Knight on Unsplash

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