Physicians' Academy for Cardiovascular Education

Alcohol consumption associates with lower endothelial dysfunction and low-grade inflammation

Alcohol and red wine consumption, but not fruit, vegetables, fish or dairy products, are associated with less endothelial dysfunction and less low-grade inflammation: the Hoorn Study

Literature - Van Bussel BCT, Henry RMA, Schalkwijk CG, et al. - Eur J Nutr 2017 [Epub ahead of print]


It has been shown that a healthy diet is associated with reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease and moreover, that the extent of a healthy diet is associated with the degree of endothelial dysfunction and low-grade inflammation [1,2].

The relation of separate food components to each other has, however, almost never been studied, nor the association between diet and flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD) of the brachial artery, an estimate of endothelium-dependent vasodilator function [3-5].

In the 2000 Hoorn study, it was therefore examined to what extent associations between fruit, vegetables, fish, dairy products, alcohol and red wine consumption and biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction and FMD or low-grade inflammation were present in 738 Dutch elderly individuals. Diet intake was assessed by a self-administered food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) and biomarkers were quantified in serum. Main results focus on independent associations only.

Various models were used for multiple correction: 1) adjusted for sex, age, glucose metabolism status, energy intake and for FMD additionally for baseline diameter and flow increase, 2) model 1 additionally adjusted for body mass index, current smoking, prior cardiovascular disease, educational level and physical activity, 3) model 2 additionally adjusted for vegetable, fruit, fish and dairy product consumption, 4a) model 2 additionally adjusted for red wine, 4b) model 2 additionally adjusted for alcohol.

Main results


Of the 5 food groups, only moderate/high consumption of alcohol and red wine were associated with a lower endothelial dysfunction biomarker score and greater FMD and red wine consumption was also associated with lower biomarkers of low-grade inflammation. Results for the other food groups including vegetable, fruit, fish and dairy products, were less clear. As observed associations were independent of consumption of the other food groups, this suggests that alcohol-containing beverage consumption may favourable influence endothelial dysfunction and low-grade inflammation.


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