In Greek history, wine has always played a major role in sparking profound dialogue and wild sex. From the orgiastic Dionysian rituals to the philosophical discussions between Plato and Socrates, wine was just as openly exchanged as thoughts and bodily fluids. Indeed, the connection between wine, intense conversation, and physical pleasure seems to have held up through the years and cultures, but, in comparison to its history, the connection between wine and heart health is a rather new discovery.
In the past years, researcher have looked at foods and supplements to analyze the ideal components of a heart-healthy diet. Here are some heart healthy foods and beverages, wine included, that made the list.
Red Wine and Heart Health
Studies show that people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol have a lower risk of heart disease than nondrinkers, with further studies showing that red wine may actually offer extra health benefits. It contains flavonoids and resveratrol, which can limit hardening of the arteries.
In addition, according to the American Heart Association, one to two alcoholic drinks per day has been shown to increase “good” (HDL) cholesterol, while lowering “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and may also reduce instances of blood clots.
Chocolate and Heart Health
The discovery that dark chocolate and cocoa are good for the heart is truly revelatory. Chocolate is rich in antioxidants called flavanoids which keep blood vessels healthy and aids them in their ability to expand.
Those of who prefer white chocolate are less fortunate. While one study showed that eating dark chocolate daily reduced blood pressure and reduced LDL, no such benefits were found as a result of eating the white variety.
Fish Oil and Heart Health
Fatty fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that may help fight heart disease. According to the AHA, the best aquatic candidates for a healthy heart include lake trout, salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, and sardines.
Alice Lichtenstein, DSc and professor of nutrition science and policy, says that she has reviewed studies crediting fish oil with decreased instances of cardiovascular disease, concluding that those who eat more than two servings per week are at a lower risk level.
Cholesterol Lowering Foods
Certain foods contain plant sterols that are shown to decrease bad cholesterol. These include cholesterol lowering margarine, chocolate bars, yogurt, and some orange juices. However, although these products have been shown to lower cholesterol, they should be used in moderation as part of a heart-healthy diet low in saturated fat.
Fruits and Vegetables and Heart Health
Lichtenstein says, “We’ve been very disappointed with supplements in general, especially with respect to cardiovascular disease.” She adds, “All the major vitamin E intervention studies have shown no significant effects.”
The solution? More fruits and veggies! Judith Levine, RD, MS advises eating ” a rainbow of fruits and veggies, incorporating reds, blues, greens, and orange/yellows for a well-balanced heart healthy diet.
What do you eat to keep your heart healthy? Let us know what tops your list of heart-healthy indulgences!