Patients with type 2 diabetes, who fancy red wine may be pleased to know that their heart health may be improved while enjoying their favorite drink. A new study suggests that aside from being safe, drinking red wine among these patients may have benefits too.

Drinking alcohol among diabetics has entailed lots of controversies, particularly in identifying its risks and benefits. Previous studies suggested that moderate alcohol drinking may be helpful regardless if an individual has diabetes or not. However, a group of international researchers, who investigated on this matter said it is uncertain whether or not it is appropriate for doctors to encourage drinking among their patients.

Although the new study found that red wine together with healthy diet for two years is beneficial, the researchers said that the results may have different meanings to each individual patient and thus must be deciphered carefully, with cautious medical checks.

The study involved 224 adults aged between 40 and 75 years old, all of whom were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. All of them were not alcohol drinkers in the past. They were randomly assigned to drink 150 milliliters (5 ounces) of either red wine, white wine or mineral water during dinner for two years.

Aside from drinking the assigned beverage, the participants also followed a Mediterranean diet, which is characterized by plant-based food, legumes, whole grains, nuts and healthy fats instead of butter.

The findings of the study showed that about 87 percent were able to complete the experiment and approximately 80 percent drank their recommended liquid intake. The participants who drank red wine had elevated "good" HDL cholesterol, which aid in the removal of "bad" LDL cholesterol from the arteries. The group also exhibited lower ratio of HDL and total cholesterol levels, thus decreasing their chance of developing heart disease.

Further into the study, the authors also searched for metabolic syndrome components such as high blood pressure and large waistline, which heighten the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. After the investigation, the researchers found that study subjects, who drank red wine had lesser of these conditions compared to those in the mineral water group.

The researchers also looked into the effects of the study intervention on blood sugar levels. Except for a subset of subjects who have livers that process alcohol rather slowly, majority did not exhibit improvements in blood sugar.

With this, the researchers cannot say that people who drink wine during dinner may have fewer heart attacks or deaths compared to those who drink mineral water.

"Although red wine was superior and preferable, we would not recommend to completely stick only to it, but to enjoy from both wines in moderation, and as part of a healthy diet," said Iris Shai, the study's senior author from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.

Shai said that the "gold standard" in medical research should be performed next, wherein a large randomized controlled study in different locations is conducted to investigate the rates of illness and death.

The study was published online in Annals of Internal Medicine on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

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