An important effect drinking red wine has on your heart, says a new study

can a glass of red wine really be a heart health booster? According to a new study in hypertension, you can toast with confidence.

Researchers evaluated the food intake of more than 100 items for 904 adults between the ages of 25 and 82, and also assessed other factors, such as gut bacteria composition and blood pressure. They found that those who consumed the most flavonoid-rich foods had lower systolic blood pressure compared to those who had the least.

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In addition to red wine, flavonoid compounds are found in:

  • berries

  • apples

  • pears

  • paprika

  • Red cabbage

  • Black and green tea

  • dark chocolate

Red wine

Red wine

In the study, drinking just under three glasses of red wine per week was associated with an average 3.7 mm Hg lower systolic blood pressure than non-drinkers. Part of that effect likely comes from an aid to gut bacteria, according to study leader Aedín Cassidy, Ph.D., chair and professor of nutrition and preventive medicine at the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University in Northern Ireland.

Recent studies have found an association between a healthy good and a strong heart, he says, which could be explained by a reduction in inflammation. While this association needs more research, Cassidy says it’s promising to see what kind of cardiovascular protection can come from increased consumption of flavonoid-rich foods.

In addition, not only your heart can benefit from this. Another recent study, published in Neurology, discovered that people who eat a diet high in flavonoids have up to 20% less risk of cognitive decline as they age, also due to less inflammation.

That is an indication that reduce inflammation eating healthy foods — and the occasional glass of red wine — can have a positive effect on the body, even if you start this way of eating later in life, according to that study’s author, Walter Willett, MD, professor of epidemiology at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University.

“Adding these foods is a simple change that anyone can make, and it can provide benefits anytime,” he says. “You don’t have to eat like this for years to see significant benefits. You see a protective effect right away. And you will probably see a profound effect if you continue.”

For more, be sure to read 12 Surprising Health Benefits Of Red Wine.