We've all heard about the potential heart health benefits of red wine, but a new study suggests it's the non-alcoholic version we should be opting for.
The study, published in the journal Circulation Research, included 67 men who all had a high risk of heart disease. Some of them drank 30 grams of red wine with alcohol per day for four weeks, some drank 30 grams of non-alcoholic red wine per day for four weeks, and some drank 30 grams of gin with alcohol per day for four weeks.
Both the alcohol and non-alcoholic red wine contained the same amount of polyphenols, which are antioxidants. One polyphenol in red wine that has been shown to particularly have benefits is called resveratrol, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The researchers found that drinking non-alcoholic red wine was linked with decreased blood pressure (systolic blood pressure was 6 millimeters of mercury lower, while diastolic blood pressure was 2 millimeters of mercury lower) among men at high risk of heart disease.
The men in the study who drank the alcoholic wine only experienced a very slight beneficial effect on blood pressure, while the men who drank gin didn't have any change in their blood pressure during the study period.
Because both the alcohol and non-alcoholic red wines contained the same amount of polyphenols, the findings suggest that alcohol could actually be damping the beneficial effects of the compounds, the researchers said.
"The daily consumption of dealcoholized red wine could be useful for the prevention of low to moderate hypertension," the researchers wrote in the study.
Recently, a review in the Cochrane Library showed that daily dark chocolate or cocoa powder consumption could also help lower blood pressure.
"Although we don't yet have evidence for any sustained decrease in blood pressure, the small reduction we saw over the short term might complement other treatment options and might contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease," study researcher Karin Ried, of the National Institute of Integrative Medicine in Australia, said in a statement.
For more foods that could help to lower your blood pressure, click through the slideshow:
Research presented at a meeting last year of the American Heart Association shows that eating three kiwis a day is linked with decreased blood pressure. That study included 188 men and women age 55 and older, with slightly high blood pressure. They were instructed to eat three kiwis a day, or an apple a day for eight weeks. The researchers found that the people who ate the kiwis had lower systolic blood pressure levels than those who ate the apples. Kiwis are known to be rich in lutein, which means they have antioxidant properties. Flickr photo by whologwhy.
A 2005 study in the journal Hypertension found that it's possible to get the blood pressure-lowering effects from potassium-containing foods, instead of just from a potassium supplement. Researchers from St. George's Medical School in London found that people who consumed potassium citrate -- which is found naturally in food -- has the same effects in decreasing blood pressure in people with hypertension as those who took potassium chloride, which is only available as a supplement, Harvard Medical School reported. Flickr photo by robin_24.
Watermelon is not just refreshing, it contains a bounty of nutrients including fiber, lycopenes, vitamin A and potassium, according to the Mother Nature Network. And, a study from Florida State University researchers shows that an amino acid found -- called L-citrulline/L-arginine -- in watermelon could also have blood pressure-lowering effects. The researchers had nine people with prehypertension take 6 grams of the L-citrulline/L-arginine amino acid a day over a six-week period. They found that the study participants had lower blood pressure, as well as better functioning of their arteries. Flickr photo by Gudlyf.
Spuds may get a bad rap in the foodsphere, but a small study presented last year at a meeting of the American Chemical Society showed that the purple-hued root vegetables have blood pressure-lowering powers that are nearly as effective as oatmeal, without packing on pounds. The study included 18 people with high blood pressure. They ate six to eight purple potatoes (including the skins!) twice a day, for a month-long period. The researchers found that the study participants' systolic and diastolic blood pressure dropped at the end of the research period. (Though, it should be noted that this was just an observational study, and the potato-eaters' blood pressure was not compared to people who did not eat purple potatoes during the study.) Flickr photo by Taransa.
Eating a lot of tofu and other soy foods -- like soy nuts, miso, edamame, tempeh and soy milk -- is linked with decreased blood pressure, WebMD reported. The study, presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, included 5,000 people whose diets were tracked over 20 years. The researchers found that the ones who consumed the most isoflavones -- found in soy, as well as peanuts and green tea -- had lower systolic blood pressure than those who consumed the fewest isoflavones, according to WebMD. Flickr photo by FotoosVanRobin.
Chocolate is linked with a lower BMI -- and it could be beneficial for people with hypertension. A 2010 review of studies in the journal BMC Medicine showed that flavanols, which are found in chocolate, seemed to promote the dilation of blood vessels, which in turn can lower blood pressure. "Flavanols have been shown to increase the formation of endothelial nitric oxide, which promotes vasodilation and consequently may lower blood pressure," study researcher Dr. Karin Ried, of the University of Adelaide in Austria, said in a statement. "There have, however, been conflicting results as to the real-life effects of eating chocolate. We've found that consumption can significantly, albeit modestly, reduce blood pressure for people with high blood pressure but not for people with normal blood pressure." Flickr photo by Siona Karen.
If you love a little heat with your food, it could be doing your blood pressure a favor, too. A 2010 study in the journal Cell Metabolism showed that capsaicin -- the spicy ingredient in chili peppers -- could help to lower blood pressure in rats with hypertension. However, the researchers from the Third Military Medical University in China noted that the results need to be replicated in humans. Flickr photo by Trostle.