Does prosecco have health benefits?

Glasses of Prosecco Image copyright Thinkstock

So is this the news we were all waiting for? The suggestion that drinking prosecco is good for us has resurfaced on social media just in time for the Christmas party season. But is it true?

Well, it actually crops up fairly regularly

Quite a few studies have looked at the potential health benefits of a moderate amount of champagne/prosecco/cava - though not recently.

It appears the seasonal tradition for having sparkling alcoholic drinks has sparked renewed interest.

The suggestion is that these drinks can help your heart and circulation by improving the way blood vessels work, because they contain polyphenols, which are plant chemicals from red and white grapes. These increase the availability of nitric oxide which controls blood pressure.

There have also been a number of stories about a polyphenol called reservatrol found in red wine - but in 2014 those claims were said to be "overhyped".

What do the experts say?

NHS Choices - which looks into medical research reports - and the British Heart Foundation have both examined the benefits of polyphenols.

They do not dismiss their potential benefits, but point out that they are also present in the healthier option of a wide range of other foods which are all better for the liver.

A BHF spokeswoman said: "Polyphenols are antioxidant type substances which are in a range of food and drink, including some of our favourite festive treats like wine and chocolate.

"A better bet for eating well for your heart is to go for healthier sources of polyphenols like fruits and vegetables which come with all of the benefits and without the downsides to your blood pressure and waistline that drinking too much alcohol and eating too much chocolate can have."

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Media captionNew alcohol guidelines: Are you drinking more than you think?

What does it mean for my Christmas party?

Basically that it is not good for your health to drink lots of prosecco, champagne or cava.

Experts stress people still need to drink responsibly.

University of Reading researchers - one of the teams that has looked into sparkling alcohol and protective benefits - have suggested drinking three glasses a week could be of benefit.

But that does not change the official guidance about alcohol intake which says that men and women should drink no more than 14 units in a week.

The rules also say that it is best not to "save up units" and drink them all in one go and to make sure you have alcohol-free days.

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