health care

Study: red wine better for heart than vodka

Posted 9/10/12

PROVIDENCE – A new study by Dr. Frank Sellke at Rhode Island Hospital has found that consuming red wine has more benefits than consuming vodka for pigs with high cholesterol, according to a study published by the journal Circulation.

Sellke, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Rhode Island and The Miriam hospitals, and his colleagues found that red wine dilates blood vessels while vodka induces collateral vessels to develop.

“There has been previous research touting the benefits of moderate consumption of wine, but we wanted to test the effects of both wine and vodka in conjunction with high cholesterol as those who would be in this at-risk patient population typically have other medical issues, such as high cholesterol,” said Sellke, the study’s principal investigator. “What we found is that moderate consumption of both alcohols may reduce cardiovascular risk, but that red wine may offer increased protection due to its antioxidant properties.”

The study involved three groups of swine that had been fed a high-fat diet. One group continued on the diet alone, the second was supplemented daily with red wine, and the third was supplemented daily with vodka. The wine and vodka were mixed with the pigs’ food, and the dosages were selected to provide equal amounts of alcohol to both treated groups.

After seven weeks, it was determined that the subjects that had been given wine or vodka had significantly increased blood flow to the heart, with the red wine having the larger cardiovascular benefit.

Additionally, it was determined that HDL, or good cholesterol, was significantly increased in the two alcohol-treated groups while total cholesterol levels were unaffected.

Through this study, researchers determined that while both red wine and vodka can benefit the heart, they do so differently. Red wine dilates blood vessels, while vodka caused more collateral vessels to develop. These finding shed new light on the mechanisms by which moderate alcohol intake might reduce cardiovascular risk. Whether these beneficial effects are also seen in humans remains to be seen.

Other Lifespan researchers involved in the study are Louis M. Chu, Antonio D. Lassaletta, Yuhong Liu, Thomas Burgess, Joseph D. Sweeney and Tun-li Shen.

To view Sellke discussing the study, click HERE.

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