Champagne good for your heart

Holly Enriquez
Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Festive-season bubbly is as good for us as a glass of red, researchers from the UK's University of Reading have found.

The research, led by Dr Jeremy Spencer along with scientists in France, found that a couple of glasses of champagne a day are good for our heart and circulation. And it's not only the top-shelf stuff — cheaper varieties may also have a similar benefit.

"We have found that a couple of glasses a day has a beneficial effect on the walls of blood vessels — which suggests champagne has the potential to reduce strokes and heart disease," Dr Spencer told the UK's Observer. "It is very exciting news!"

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Previous research has shown that two glasses of red wine a day can help ward off heart disease due to the wine's high level of the antioxidant, polyphenol. These reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by slowing down the removal of nitric oxide from the blood. Increased levels of nitric oxide cause blood vessels to dilate and, subsequently, lower blood pressure, the Observer reported.

Polyphenols are also present in champagne, thanks to the two varieties of black grape (pinot noir and pinot meunier), and give the fizzy stuff its heart-boosting benefits.

The researchers are yet to test other types of champagne, but Dr Spencer said there is no reason why they wouldn't have a similar effect.

Bubbly and red wine not your thing? How about dark chocolate? The team also found high levels of polyphenols in cocoa beans. "The benefit is certainly the same but it doesn't seem as much fun somehow," Dr Spencer said.

The research is to be published in the British Journal of Nutrition this week.

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