Moderate drinking, without food, could impact blood pressure

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Blood pressure

Drinking alcohol, even only lightly, outside of mealtimes could be
a significant risk factor in developing high blood pressure, claim
US researchers.

Their findings casts new light on an increasing body of evidence that suggests moderate alcohol consumption, particularly red wine, could benefit heart health.

"The research points out that drinking without food may counteract any benefit to the cardiovascular system associated with moderate alcohol consumption,"​ said lead researcher Saverio Stranges, at the University of Buffalo​.

Nearly one in three annual global deaths, about 16.7 million, result from various forms of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure is believed to be a contributory factor.

A string of studies suggest that the powerful antioxidant resveratrol found in red wine, could protect against the blood clots and possibly high cholesterol levels, both associated with heart conditions.

Targeting a burgeoning market, the food industry continues to roll out food products designed to tackle heart health. Set to grow 7.6 per cent in the UK market alone, according to Datamonitor, these foods are slated to achieve sales of £145 million in the UK by 2007. This is second only to gut health in terms of purpose categories.

The latest findings from Buffalo University, say the researchers, confirmed results from a previous study conducted in Italy by some of the same investigators, as well as showing for the first time that even light to moderate alcohol intake outside of meals puts drinkers at risk for hypertension.

Hypertension was defined by systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or greater or diastolic blood pressure of 90 mm Hg or greater, or by the fact that an individual was taking medication for high blood pressure.

Findings were based on blood pressure readings and self-reported alcohol consumption patterns from a randomly selected sample of 2,609 white men and women between the ages of 35 and 80 - all participants were free of other cardiovascular diseases.

Participants provided data on their alcohol consumption during the past 30 days. Questions covered how often they drank during that time period, when they drank (weekdays versus weekends), how much they drank (drinks per day) and if they drank with meals, with snacks or without food. They also reported whether they drank mostly beer, wine or spirits.

Results, say the researchers, confirmed findings of a previous study conducted in Italy by some of the same investigators and also showed for the first time that even light to moderate alcohol intake outside of meals puts drinkers at risk for hypertension.

Hypertension was defined by systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or greater or diastolic blood pressure of 90 mm Hg or greater, or by the fact that an individual was taking medication for high blood pressure.

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