Good news for the holiday season! Champagne does more than tickle your nose. It may also protect your heart.
This is according to a study conducted at Reading University in England and published in the British Journal of Nutrition. Researchers from Reading, England and Reims, France concluded that champagne has the same heart health benefits as red wine because it contains polyphenol antioxidants.
These compounds in champagne were found to reduce cell-damage caused by free radicals. They also reduce the release of nitric acid from the blood, keeping blood pressure down. The researchers believe this reduces the risk of strokes and heart disease.
Champagne - the real stuff - is a sparkling wine produced only in the Champagne region of France near Paris. It is traditionally made with a blend of red Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes as well as white Chardonnay grapes. Some champagnes are made with only the red grapes (blanc de noir) or only white grapes (blanc de blanc).
In the study, 15 lucky subjects drank 375 ml (12.7 ounces) of champagne or a non-champagne alcoholic substitute without polyphenols in 10 minutes. (Don't try this at home!)
Based on the results, the lead researcher stated that "a couple of glasses" of champagne a day benefits the walls of blood vessels.
However, the study did not directly measure the occurrence of cardiovascular disease. In other words, it didn't actually study heart disease and champagne in the general population.
According to Walter Willett, M.D., Chairman of Nutrition at Harvard University's School of Public Health, much attention has been given to studies concluding that daily moderate consumption of alcohol of any type (including beer, white or red wine, or whiskey) over the age of 50 will reduce cardiovascular risk.
What is not commonly known, according to Willett, is that the beneficial effects of alcohol are only realized if there are sufficient levels of folate or folic acid in the diet. Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate which is a B vitamin found naturally in fruits and vegetables.
In the Reading study, champagne was found to provide benefits on a par not only with red wine but also with cocoa.
Red wine, champagne and chocolate: sounds like a joyful holiday celebration. Just remember to add some fruits and vegetables for your folate, and enjoy it all guilt-free!