Study Shows Avoiding Alcohol May Lead To Lower Blood Pressure

A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.

By Nina Pajak

Remember all those great rationalizations for drinking lots of red wine, like how it has antioxidants which are good for your heart and blood pressure? And it’ll make you live to be 120, like all those adorable old people living in the little villages in the rolling hills of Western Europe, doing nothing but drinking red wine, smoking cigarettes, playing Boccie and eating stinky cheese all day?

See Also: NYC’s 5 Best Wine & Cheese Bars

Well, someone’s gone and ruined it all. And believe it or not, it was the Spanish! Can you believe it? Not us teetotaling, health-obsessed/confused/concerned Americans, but those from one of the very countries that perpetuates the myth of living well. I mean, they still take naps there. Come on, you guys.

They did a study in which men who had predetermined health risk factors drank non-alcoholic wine, gin, and plain old red wine. And guess what?

The lucky boozehound subjects showed no change. But those who drank the non-alcoholic wine showed a drop in blood pressure, which with some fancy number work equals a 14 percent reduced risk for coronary heart disease and a 20 percent decrease in risk for strokes.

On the one hand, this is good news for gin drinkers, who have probably been defending their habit even more than the winos. Now they can safely say that it is as good for your heart as red wine, however misleading that statement might actually be.

More: NYC’s 9 Best Wine Bars

Bad news for red wine lovers, because non-alcoholic wine? Feh. Might as well pass the Welch’s. How do you say “pitiful abomination” in Italian?

But take heart. Dr. Malissa Wood, a cardiologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center in Boston, who spoke to ABC News and would probably be someone I’d like to hang out with, spotted some pretty gaping holes in the study’s findings:

“‘Maybe it’s related to the type of grape and process used to make the wine — the authors didn’t specify whether or not all the wines were made from the same grapes using the same techniques. It’s also possible that the process for removal of alcohol leads to formation of another potentially beneficial compound or increases the content of antioxidants.'”

Let’s go with all that. Thanks, Dr. Wood. I feel a lot better.

Just in case someone improves upon this research with a more thorough study which proves these Spaniards correct, I’ve got a ready list of more rationalizations ready. Gems like:

“Stress leads to more heart attacks than non-alcoholic wine prevents.”

“Look at all those old people in the South of France!”

“I don’t drink too much red wine. Your mom drinks too much red wine.”

“Nothing this lovely can be that bad for you.”

“Shut up and leave me alone why don’t you.”

Just please, no one get any crazy ideas about disproving the health benefits of dark chocolate. I will be forced to hunt you down and make sure your findings never see the light of the Internet.


Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

 Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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