Page last updated: April 22, 2013
Red wine aids digestion of red meats

Professor Ron Kohen, from the Institute of Drug Research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has published a paper which indicates that a glass of red wine can prevent the build up of cholesterol after a meal of dark or red meat.

According to the study researchers, without red wine consumption, 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 findings of this study suggest that antioxidants in red wine stop these compounds from being absorbed in the gut, preventing them from reaching the blood stream where they can cause harm.

Professor Kohen stated:  “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 diminishes 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  (MDA-LDL) 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.

When the volunteers had the cutlets with red wine, however, the levels of modified cholesterol did not change and even fell in some cases. The meat cutlets for the second group were marinated in red wine, but Professor Kohen predicted that a similar effect would be seen if they had drunk the red wine with the meal.

A rational approach to prevent postprandial modification of LDL by dietary polyphenols. S Gorelik,  J Kanner,  D Schurr,  R Kohen.  Journal of Functional Foods, Available online 30 October 2012.

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