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Clin Cardiol. 1997 May;20(5):420-4.

Alcohol, ischemic heart disease, and the French paradox.

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State University of New York at Buffalo, USA.


Many studies have shown either an inverse relation between alcohol intake and ischemic heart disease or a U-shaped curve in which the equivalent of two drinks per day of any kind of alcohol is associated with a decreased incidence of coronary disease compared with no drinks, while higher doses result in an increased risk of infarction and stroke. Although the cardioprotective effects of most alcoholic beverages are probably due to an elevation of high-density lipoprotein as well as the ability of alcohol to prevent platelet aggregation and increased fibrinolysis, there is an increased favorable effect of red wine. The unique cardioprotective properties of red wine reside in the action of flavonoids which are absent in white wine (with the exception of champagne) and sparse in beer (with the exception of dark beers). The best research flavonoids are resveritrol and quercetin, which confer antioxidant properties more potent than alpha-tocopherol. Grape juice has about half the amount of flavonoids by volume as does red wine.

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