Is red wine just as heart-healthy without the alcohol?

December 29, 1999

Red wine's value to cardiovascular health has been ascribed to flavonoids which produce benefits not reported for other alcoholic beverages. Whether the presence of alcohol in red wine enhances the benefits of the flavonoids it contains has been the subject of speculation. A new study from the University of California, Davis examines how the body absorbs flavonoids from red wine with, and without, the presence of alcohol.

The research by Bell et al focussed on catechin, a flavonoid which is found abundantly in red wine. Five male subjects and four females consumed one moderate serving of a "red wine" beverage which had been dealcoholized using a standardized process to preserve all of its essential flavonoids, including catechin. Half of the dealcoholized samples were reconstituted using only water, and the other half with a mixture of water and alcohol bringing the sample to the level normally found in red wine (13%). After consuming the drink, the subjects' blood concentrations of catechin were measured at regular intervals over an 8-hour period.

Catechin concentrations rose sharply in both groups through the third hour after ingestion of the beverage, but persisted for significantly less time (an average of 22%) in those who drank the alcoholic beverage. These results could mean that the alcohol caused the catechin to be either excreted or metabolized more quickly in the presence of alcohol than in the non-alcoholic sample. The authors conclude that the alcohol contributed no additional benefit to the presence of catechin in red wine.
Bell, JRC et al (+)-Catechin in human plasma after ingestion of a single serving of reconstituted red wine. Am J Clin Nutr;71.

For more information contact: Sidika Kasim-Karakas,

This media release is provided by The American Society for Clinical Nutrition, to provide current information on nutrition-related research. This information should not be construed as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, consult your doctor.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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