(Relaxnews) – At the European Society of Cardiology Congress, researchers from the Czech Republic presented a first of its kind study in which they concluded that wine has its greatest cardiovascular benefits for those who exercise.
“This is the first randomised trial comparing the effects of red and white wine on markers of atherosclerosis in people at mild to moderate risk of CVD,” says Professor Milos Taborsky, Director of the Internal Cardiology Clinic of the University Hospital and Palacky University in Olomouc. “We found that moderate wine drinking was only protective in people who exercised. Red and white wine produced the same results.”
Dr. Taborsky’s “In Vino Veritas” study involved 146 participants who, according to Heart Score, an international risk assessment tool, carried mild to moderate risk of cardiovascular disease.
They were assigned at random to drink a moderate amount of Czechoslovakian wine from the same year and region over the course of a year, either Pinot Noir (red) or Chardonnay-Pinot (white).
Researchers defined moderate consumption according to the World Health Organization standards of .02 L for women and .03 L for men, not more than five times per week.
Participants made no dietary changes and kept a logbook of wine and other alcohol intake in addition to medication use and, importantly, exercise.
To insure that participants drank their wine rather than selling it, researchers required them to reveal their corks, also taking their cholesterol readings.
Researchers were most concerned with HDL cholesterol levels, of which Dr. Taborsky says an increase indicates a protective effect against cardiovascular disease, but overall his subjects’ HDL levels remained unchanged after one year.
Secondary concerns included markers of atherosclerosis such as LDL cholesterol, which was lower for both groups, although total cholesterol was lower only for the drinkers of the Pinot Noir.
“The only positive and continuous result was in the subgroup of patients who took more exercise, which means regular exercise at least twice a week, plus the wine consumption,” says Dr. Taborsky. “In this group HDL cholesterol increased and LDL and total cholesterol decreased in the red and white wine groups.”
Dr. Taborsky admits that more research is needed to uncover how the unlikely pair of wine and exercise work together.
“There may be some synergy between the low dose of ethyl alcohol in wine and exercise which is protective against CVD.”
The 2014 European Society of Cardiology Congress runs through September 3 in Barcelona.