We all know that red wine is traditionally paired with meat – beef and lamb in particular but now scientists are telling us that there is actually a health benefit in doing so. The Telegraph has reported that scientists have found that drinking a glass of red wine while eating red meat can counteract the build-up of cholesterol following a meal.
Professor Ron Kohen and his team from the Institute of Drug Research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem 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”.
The Professor said this may help to explain why red wine has frequently been found to reduce the risk of heart disease:
“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.”
Apparently 14 healthy volunteers were fed a series of meals of dark turkey cutlets and asked them to avoid other meats and fish over 4 days. 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%. It is thought that such modified cholesterol is responsible for hardening arteries and creating plaques that lead to heart disease.
However when they had the cutlets with red wine the levels of modified cholesterol did not change and even fell in some cases. The meat cutlets were actually marinated in red wine but Professor Kohen said that a similar effect would be seen if they had drunk the red wine with the meal.
The study is published in the Journal of Functional Foods.
This sounds great to me – a good steak and a bottle of red Bordeaux are a match made in heaven, it’s great to know that I might actually be getting rid of some cholesterol whilst tucking in to one of my favourite meals!