Harmful compounds from red meat form in the bloodstream, creating “bad” cholesterol that damages blood vessels and heightens cardiac risks.
The researchers showed, however, that anti-oxidants in the wine known as polyphenols prevented these compounds from being absorbed into the bloodstream where they can cause harm, the “Journal of Functional Foods” reports.
Ron Kohen, professor from the Institute of Drug Research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said this may help to explain why red wine has frequently been found to reduce the risk of heart disease, according to the “Telegraph”.
“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 diminish these harmful effects,” said Kohen.
Over four days, the researchers fed a group of 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 bloodstream. They also showed greater levels of cholesterol that had been modified by malondialdehyde in their blood.
After four days of eating the meat, the levels of modified cholesterol had increased by 97 percent. It is thought that such modified cholesterol is responsible for hardening arteries and creating plaques that lead to heart disease.
When they had the cutlets with red wine, however, the levels of modified cholesterol did not change and even fell in some cases.