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Last Updated: Friday, 19 March, 2004, 03:06 GMT
A sherry could keep doctor away
Sherry lowers bad cholesterol
If a heavy claret is not your tipple then reach for the sherry - it could protect your heart, research suggests.

Sherry may have the same health benefits of red wine, scientists at the University of Seville think.

Drinking sherry could protect people from coronary artery disease, which can lead to heart attacks.

An article in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture shows that sherry reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol.

The Spanish study found polyphenols in red wine, which are associated with reducing the incidence of coronary artery disease, are also found in sherry.

Polyphenols protect the heart by preventing the "bad" cholesterol from becoming sticky and building up as a deposit on the blood vessel walls.

The beneficial effects of red wine can be extended to sherry wines
Juan Guerrero, University of Seville
Drinking sherry also increases the body's production of "good" cholesterol, which medical experts think helps to carry potentially harmful cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it is passed from the body.

The researchers used rats to test the health benefits of sherry.

They were given a daily quantity of sherry equivalent to a 150ml serving for a human adult, while control rats were given either water or ethanol in water.

After two months the rats fed on sherry had less bad cholesterol and increased good HDL cholesterol.


Researcher Juan Guerrero said: "Sherry is widely consumed, especially in Spain and the UK, and we have shown that its moderate intake decreased total cholesterol and increased HDL-cholesterol.

"As a general rule, moderate consumption of red wine exerts beneficial effects for health.

"In our research, the beneficial effects of red wine can be extended to sherry wines."

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) believes the study is not conclusive.

In the long term, alcohol should not be used to protect the heart
Alison Shaw, British Heart Foundation
Alison Shaw, BHF Cardiac Nurse said: "We have known for some time that moderate consumption of alcohol (one to two units per day) may have a protective effect against coronary heart disease for men over the age of 40 and for post menopausal women.

"This research suggests that sherry may be beneficial in helping to lower cholesterol levels, however, further large-scale, controlled trials on humans are required before it can be recommended to help protect the heart.

"As a cautionary note, it is worth keeping in mind that too much alcohol can have an adverse effect on health by increasing weight and raising blood pressure.

"It may affect people in different ways depending on their lifestyle and family history.

"In the long term, alcohol should not be used to protect the heart.

"The best way to reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease is to stop smoking, increase levels of physical activity and cut down saturated fats."

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