Q.  My neighbor keeps telling me to start drinking red wine with dinner “because it is good for your heart, and a happy heart is a happy brain.” Is there any research about this?

A. Saying that red wine is good for the heart implies that the wine is good for cardiovascular function. Actually, it’s the resveratrol in the skin of the red grapes that appears to be good for the heart and there is some resveratrol in red wine. Balance that by the fact that wine contains alcohol, albeit at a lower percentage than does hard liquor. Alcohol is perceived as a stressor by the brain and tends to trigger the stress response. This can result in a rise in the stress chemical cortisol and in the neurotransmitter-hormone combination found in Corticotropin Releasing Factor or CRF, a powerful substance that provides a brief spurt of euphoria but that also can increase inflammation and may increase one’s risk for suicidal thoughts, especially in a brain that is already depressed. In addition, there appears to be strong scientific consensus of an association between alcohol drinking and several types of cancer. You may want to review this summary yourself. [http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/alcohol/alcohol-fact-sheet]

Resveratrol? I’ll take the red grapes.