Drinking alcohol-free wine can improve heart health as much as consuming modest amounts of normal wine can, according to new research.
The study, published by Clinical Nutrition, suggests this benefit is due to the grapes used in wine, rather than the alcohol itself.
Researchers at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) analysed data from nearly 450,000 people aged 40-69 to look at the impacts of moderate alcohol consumption on their health.
They found a 40 per cent reduced risk of coronary heart disease among those who drank up to 11 glasses of wine a week, in comparison to non-drinkers and binge drinkers.
The same reduced risk was found among those who regularly drank non-alcoholic versions.
The study also found that those who drank low levels of beer, cider and spirits had higher levels of heart and cerebrovascular disease, cancer and mortality.
The only health benefit in alcohol comes from the grapes used in wine and Champagne, which are high in antioxidants called polyphenols that can lower the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol levels.
Dr Rudolph Schutte of ARU said these findings should help debunk the myth that a moderate amount of alcohol can help ward off heart problems.
He explained that, while there is an “undeniable protective beneficial relationship” between heart disease and both red and white wine, there are still other serious health risks that come with alcohol consumption such as other cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
The NHS advises men and women not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis, spreading your drinking over three or more days if you regularly drink as much as 14 units a week.
Dr Schutte warns that drinking any alcohol, even at low levels, can be damaging to health.
Find more information on alcohol units and advice on the NHS website.