Red wine might be considered
good for overall health, but it raises blood pressure
nearly as much as beer does, Australian researchers reported.
People at risk of high
blood pressure should not switch to red wine in the hope
of being able to drink more, they concluded.
"A positive relationship
between alcohol consumption and blood pressure is well
established, but the relative effect of specific alcoholic
beverages is controversial," said Renate Zilkens of the
University of Western Australia, who led the study.
Some drinkers may have
hoped that red wine's antioxidant compounds could counteract
the effects of alcohol in raising blood pressure.
But, writing in the American
Heart Association journal Hypertension, Zilkens
and colleagues said they found no such effect in 24 healthy,
All the men, aged 20 to
65, said they drank alcohol daily but had normal blood
pressure and no history of heart disease.
For the experiment the
men abstained from all alcohol for two weeks and then
took either another month of abstinence, 375 ml (13 ounces)
of red wine a day, de-alcoholized red wine, or 1.125 ml
(38 ounces) of beer. Each man cycled through all four
groups over four months.
When drinking beer, the
men had on average a higher systolic blood pressure (the
first number in a blood pressure reading) of 2.9 millimeters
of mercury (mm Hg). Daily wine drinking raised systolic
pressure by an average of 1.9 mm Hg.
Beer also increased the
sleeping heart rate by five beats a minute on average
while wine made it go up by more than four beats a minute.
"The advice to drinking
men 'at risk' of hypertension and those with hypertension
is to drink less than two drinks per day," said Zilkens.
"At that level they will still benefit from the HDL ("good")
cholesterol-raising effect and anti-coagulant properties
of alcohol which are considered to be protective of the