Tim Spector names alcoholic drink that helps heart health - but there's a catch

Professor Tim Spector, an expert in nutritional science and founder of the Zoe app, has shared some hopeful news for red wine devotees - it's alright to have a couple of glasses, and it could even have some health benefits.

The professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London expressed his views in a column for the Daily Telegraph, suggesting that consumption could even be 'beneficial'.

He further highlighted that it was acceptable to enjoy 'occasionally' and underlined: "According to some, by defending my evening glass of red, I am somehow green-lighting alcohol as a healthy drink for everyone to have every day. This, you will be unsurprised to hear, is not my professional opinion there is always a need for balance."

He continued: "Of course, I am no fool. I know that alcohol is a poison. Many people become addicted and suffer significant health consequences. There is absolutely no doubt about this."

Gloucestershire Live reports that Prof Spector indicated there were scientific studies evidencing that unlike other alcoholic drinks, red wine holds particular health benefits - especially for the heart.

He shared: "There is good evidence that a glass of red wine a day protects heart health. Other alcoholic drinks do not. This protective effect is partly due to plant chemicals in red wine called polyphenols, which are antioxidants that help feed your gut microbiome. They're also present in traditionally brewed ciders and, to a lesser extent, rose wines." Having a healthy gut is additionally beneficial in combating inflammation.

The expert highlighted the importance of social interaction, noting: "Aside from the polyphenols, we must not underestimate the social benefits of having a drink with friends. This is especially true as we get older there are strong links between good social networks and decreased mortality risk. In the West, we are facing a pandemic of loneliness, and for some, a drink with friends can be a genuine lifeline."

He also addressed those who abstain from alcohol: "Some people never drink, and some people give up alcohol, feel much better, and never touch it again. If this is you, I am not recommending you start drinking red wine now. " He further added, "Most of the people that I know do drink alcohol. As boring as it sounds, moderation is key and if you drink red wine in moderation and make sure you have alcohol-free days, any negative impacts are likely to be relatively minor, especially when you factor in the benefits of polyphenols and social connection."

Finally, he recommended that 'teetotallers' should not start drinking red wine purely for the health benefits. Tim also recognised that giving up alcohol altogether isn't 'realistic or practical' for a lot of people, so instead we should aim to do it in a 'controlled and reasonable way'.

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