When it comes to nutrient intake, absorption is vital. You may get large amounts of vitamins, minerals, and essential fats from your foods and supplements, but be unable to use them effectively. This can be due to missing co-factors — nutrients that help other nutrients work. Now we’re finding that some of these nutrients are in one particular alcoholic beverage. And they work especially well with fish oil and other omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fats are some of the most important nutrients you can take. They are found in fatty fish, walnuts, and flax seed oil. These fats protect against heart disease, stroke, and sudden cardiac death. And a new study says that an important antioxidant in red wine can increase the absorption of these fatty acids.
Researchers found that drinking a little wine each day makes omega-3 fats more absorbable. In the study, the researchers gave more than 1,500 people from three countries a comprehensive medical exam and asked to keep a one-year food diary. They used the diary to evaluate the composition of their diet, including their alcohol consumption.
The women who drank one glass of wine a day had higher levels of omega-3 fats. And here’s the kicker: it had absolutely nothing to do with their fish intake! That’s right. Just a single glass of wine increased the absorption of the healthiest fats you can take.
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Other studies have shown an association between drinking wine and higher blood levels of omega-3 fats. Understandably, these scientists wanted to know whether these results came from something in the wine or from the alcohol. So they looked at omega-3 levels associated with different alcoholic drinks. They found that drinking other alcoholic beverages also raised levels of omega-3 fats. But to a much lesser degree.
If you’re an alcoholic, of course, you should avoid drinking any alcohol at all. But if you’re not, and if you enjoy a glass of wine, continue having one glass a day (two if you’re a man). And make sure your diet and supplements include omega-3 fats. This combination causes an interaction that increases antioxidant activity.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2009.