We all know that we are not supposed to eat too much red meat, although lots of us, when asked, may not be sure exactly why. Red meat contains compounds that can damage your body by raising levels of “bad cholesterol. New research shows that drinking a glass of red wine with red meat could prevent these compounds from being released, possibly explaining the link between drinking red wine and lowered risk of heart disease.
How it works
After eating red meat, compounds known as malondialdehyde gather in the blood stream. These compounds help to create the cholesterol responsible for increasing the risk of heart disease. The research found that when volunteers drank red wine with red meat, the malondialdehyde compounds were not absorbed into the blood. It is thought that polyphenols, the antioxidants found in red wine, stopped the harmful compound from being absorbed.
Over a period of four days, 14 healthy volunteers were given meals containing dark turkey cutlets and asked to avoid all other meat and fish for the duration of the study. Some of the same individuals repeated this process with the equivalent of a glass of wine being consumed with each cutlet (in the form of a red wine marinade).
When volunteers ate the dark turkey meat alone malondialdehyde levels rose after the meal. Higher levels of cholesterol, created by the malondialdehyde, were also detected. By the end of this four day diet, the levels of cholesterol that had been modified by the compound had risen by an average of 97% (nearly double). It is thought that it is this modified cholesterol that harden the arteries, leading to heart disease.
However, when the same participants had red wine with their cutlets, levels of malondialdehyde and the modified cholesterol were the same and, in some cases, dropped.
Although in this study the dark meat was marinated in red wine, professors believe that drinking a glass of red win with a meat dish will have the same effect. Further studies are required to confirm the links between polyphenols and cholesterol. In the meantime, however, accompanying red meat with polyphenol-rich food or drink can do much more good than harm.
Sources of Polyphenols
Of course, red wine isn’t the only source of polyphenols. Food including apples, blueberries, cantaloupe, cranberries, grapes, broccoli, cabbage and onion are also rich in polyphenols, as well as white tea, green tea and olive oil.
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