Champagne Has Heart Benefits

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You may be helping your heart when you pop the cork on a bottle of bubbly this holiday season. Researchers report that a couple of glasses of champagne a day may benefit your heart and blood circulation.

Results of the study, which will be published in the British Journal of Nutrition, suggest “that champagne has the potential to reduce strokes and heart disease,” according to Dr. Jeremy Spencer of Reading University, in a statement to the Observer. Dr. Spencer led the team of researchers who found that a moderate amount of the beverage has a positive impact on the walls of blood vessels.

Previous research has shown that red wine can help fight heart disease and circulation problems. Most of this benefit is credited to a type of phytonutrient (plant-based) called polyphenols, of which resveratrol is perhaps one of the best known. Polyphenols slow down the removal of nitric oxide from the blood. This allows nitric oxide levels to remain elevated, which then cause blood vessels to dilate, lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack and other heart-related problems.

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Champagne, which is made from two varieties of black grape and one of white, also contains polyphenols, but no studies had evaluated whether the bubbly might offer the same heart benefits as red wine. This new study found that when compared with a polyphenol-free beverage of alcohol and carbonated water, champagne had a much greater impact on nitric oxide levels in the blood.

The researchers concluded that a moderate amount of champagne consumed daily “may improve vascular performance via the delivery of phenolic constituents.” Although the investigators did not test other types of fizz, such as cava and prosecco, they believe the benefits should be similar.

So as the holidays approach and a new year waits to be brought in, you can feel relatively confident that when you break open the champagne, you may be helping your heart. A moderate amount of champagne shared with friends and loved ones may be just what the doctor ordered.

SOURCES:
Observer, Dec. 13, 2009
Vauzour D et al. British Journal of Nutrition 2009; Nov 30:1-11

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