Diabetic? Red wine may boost heart health

By: | Updated: October 18, 2015 8:29 PM

A glass of red wine every night may help people with type 2 diabetes manage their cholesterol and cardiac health, scientists say...

A glass of red wine every night may help people with type 2 diabetes manage their cholesterol and cardiac health, scientists say.

The new findings from a two-year randomised controlled trial led by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) found that both red and white wine can improve sugar control, depending on alcohol metabolism genetic profiling.

Researchers aimed to assess the effects and safety of initiating moderate alcohol consumption in diabetics, and sought to determine whether the type of wine matters.

People with diabetes are more susceptible to developing cardiovascular diseases than the general population and have lower levels of “good” cholesterol.

“Red wine was found to be superior in improving overall metabolic profiles, mainly by modestly improving the lipid profile, by increasing good (HDL) cholesterol and apolipoprotein A1 (one of the major constituents of HDL cholesterol), while decreasing the ratio between total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol,” the researchers said.

The researchers concluded that initiating moderate wine intake, especially red wine, among well-controlled diabetics, as part of a healthy diet, is apparently safe, and modestly decreases cardio-metabolic risk.

The researchers also found that only the slow alcohol-metabolisers who drank wine achieved an improvement in blood sugar control, while fast alcohol-metabolisers (with much faster blood alcohol clearance) did not benefit from the ethanol’s glucose control effect.

Approximately one in five participants was found to be a fast alcohol-metaboliser, identified through ADH enzyme genetic variants tests.

Wine of either type (red or white) did not affect blood pressure, liver function tests, adiposity or adverse symptoms. However, sleep quality was significantly improved in both wine groups, compared with the water control group.

The two-year CArdiovaSCulAr Diabetes and Ethanol (CASCADE) randomised controlled intervention trial was performed on 224 controlled diabetes patients (aged 45 to 75), who generally abstained from alcohol.

They gradually initiated moderate wine consumption, as part of a healthy diet platform.

“The differences found between red and white wine were opposed to our original hypothesis that the beneficial effects of wine are mediated predominantly by the alcohol,” said BGU’s Professor Iris Shai, principal investigator of the CASCADE trial, and a member of the Department of Public Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

“Approximately 150ml of the dry red or white tested wines contained 17g ethanol and 120kCal, but the red wine had sevenfold higher levels of total phenols and 4 to 13-fold higher levels of the specific resveratrol group compounds than the white wine.

“The genetic interactions suggest that ethanol plays an important role in glucose metabolism, while red wine’s effects additionally involve non-alcoholic constituents,” Shai said.

The study was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

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