It now appears that a moderate alcohol intake is associated with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in plasma and red blood cells. These findings will be published in the January issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, an official publication of the American Society for Nutrition. The study authors imply that wine does a better job than other alcoholic drinks, which may be the key to understanding the mechanism behind the heart protection that wine appears to offer moderate drinkers.
This study examined 1,604 citizens from three geographical areas: south-west London in England, Limburg in Belgium and Abruzzo in Italy. Thanks to a close cooperation with General Practitioners of these areas, all participants underwent a comprehensive medical examination, including a one year recall food frequency questionnaire to assess their dietary intake and alcohol consumption levels.
Omega-3 fatty acids, mainly derived from fish, are considered as protective against coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death, thus their high blood concentration is definitely good for our health. What's interesting about this study is that European researchers found that moderate alcohol drinking acts like a 'trigger,' boosting the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the body. People drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, one drink a day for women and two for men, had higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acids in plasma and red blood cells independently of their fish intake.
One author, Licia Iacoviello of Catholic University of Campobasso, says that while the results showed that the association between alcohol and omega-3 fatty acids was present in both wine drinkers and beer or spirits drinkers, the association was stronger between wine drinking and omega-3 fatty acids levels. "This suggests that components of wine other than alcohol is associated with omega-3 fatty acids concentration. We may guess this effect can be ascribed to polyphenols".
Polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds contained in a different variety of food and beverages, such as wine. Polyphenols such as resveratrol have been shown to have a strong antioxidant activity.