Many studies have shown that a moderate intake of wine or beer raises protective HDL cholesterol, lowers harmful LDL cholesterol, and reduces the likelihood of dying from coronary heart disease. These studies have also repeatedly demonstrated that the benefits of wine and beer (and other alcoholic drinks) are equal and accounted for by the alcohol in them.
Yet there remains a persistent belief that wine, particularly red wine, is especially heart-healthy. The possible superiority of red wine has been attributed to various antioxidant chemicals found in it.
A study from Denmark suggests another explanation: any lower death rate of wine drinkers from heart disease may be due to their following healthier diets than beer drinkers.
The investigators randomly examined the receipts of shoppers at two large Danish supermarket chains. They found that purchasers of beer bought fewer fruits and vegetables and less low-fat milk, cheeses and meats than wine purchasers. Beer buyers also bought more chips, cold cuts, sausages, butter and margarines, and ready-cooked dishes than wine buyers. Results from the U.S. and France corroborated that wine drinkers tend to purchase healthier foods: more fruits, vegetables, fish, and cooking oils rather than butter and other saturated fats.
So whether you drink wine, beer, both, or neither, a healthy diet can go a long way to protect you against coronary heart disease and its complications.