Red wine prevents cholesterol build up from meat

Drinking a glass of red wine while eating red meat can counteract the build up of cholesterol following a meal, scientists have found.

By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent January 13, 2013
Daily Telegraph
Finally there is an excuse to pick a good red wine with your Sunday roast - it can diminish the unhealthy effects of eating red meat.

Scientists have discovered that a glass of red wine can prevent the buildup of cholesterol after a meal of dark or red meat.

They found that harmful compounds from the meat would build up in the blood stream of volunteers as they digested a meal, helping to form "bad" cholesterol that can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease.

The researchers showed, however, that antioxidants in the wine known as polyphenols stopped these compounds from being absorbed in the gut and so they did not get into the blood stream where they can cause harm.

Professor Ron Kohen, from the institute of drug research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said this may help to explain why red wine has frequently been found to reduce the risk of heart disease.

He said: "Meat is rich in polyunsaturated fat and cholesterol. Our results could provide an explanation for the association between frequent meat consumption and increased risk in developing cardiovascular diseases. Including polyphenol rich products as an integral part of the meal significantly diminish these harmful effects."

Over four days, the researchers fed a group of 14 healthy volunteers a series of meals of dark turkey cutlets and asked them to avoid other meats and fish.

A smaller group of the same individuals then repeated the four day diet, accompanying each cutlet with the equivalent of a glass of red wine.

The research showed that when the volunteers ate the meat alone, they had increased levels of a compound known as malondialdehyde in their blood stream after eating.

They also showed greater levels of cholesterol that had been modified by malondialdehyde in their blood.

After four days of eating the meat, the levels of modified cholesterol had increased by 97 per cent. It is thought that such modified cholesterol is responsible for hardening arteries and creating plaques that lead to heart disease.

When they had the cutlets with red wine, however, the levels of modified cholesterol did not change and even fell in some cases.

In the study, which is published in the Journal of Functional Foods, the meat cutlets for the second group were marinated in red wine, but Professor Kohen said a similar effect would be seen if they had drunk the red wine with the meal.

A separate study from New Zealand has also revealed that eating vegetables like potatoes with red meat can help reduce the harmful by-products produced during digestion.