A large Swedish study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology involved more than 20,721 men, ages 45 to 79, living in Sweden. It looked at their behavior with regard to five healthy lifestyle practices: diet, alcohol consumption, smoking habits, physical activity, and overweight status. At the onset, none of the men had a history of heart problems.
Eleven years of follow-up found that 1,361 subjects suffered myocardial infarctions (heart attacks). Men who combined a low-risk diet with moderate alcohol consumption (one to three typical glasses of wine), who were physically active, didn’t smoke, and had a minimum amount of abdominal fat, had an 86 percent lower risk of heart attack. Similar results were found in men with high blood pressure and high-cholesterol levels.
Wine beat exercise in this study. Those who maintained moderate alcohol consumption had a greater reduction in risk of heart attacks than they did from regular physical activity.
What is the take-away message for men? Avoid smoking, walk or cycle at least 40 minutes per day, maintain a waist circumference below 38 inches, consume moderate amounts of alcohol if you choose to drink, and follow a healthy diet consisting of a regular consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, reduced-fat dairy products, whole grains, and fish.