Red wine. It seems to be the exception to the rule when we discuss the negative health consequences of drinking alcohol. This idea would fly in the face of our common sense so can it be true?
Red wine is an alcoholic drink that comes in a vast array of varieties, tastes, and colors, ranging from deep violet to brick red and even brown. Despite these differences, they are all prepared through a process that involves crushing dark-colored grapes and fermenting them.
Red wine is often connected to a phenomenon called the “French paradox,” which refers to the observation that the French tend to have lower rates of heart disease despite their diets containing high levels of cholesterol and saturated fat. Some believe that red wine has protected the French from the harmful effects these dietary components can cause. However, newer research indicates it’s more likely that the French live healthier overall lifestyles that include more leisure time physical activity and consume more fruits and vegetables especially those high in folate.
Several scientific studies have linked moderate red wine consumption with a range of potential health benefits. The following are some of the most prominent advantages that red wine has been connected to over years of research.
Grapes, and therefore wines, are rich in various antioxidants, including catechin, proanthocyanidins, epicatechin, and resveratrol. Resveratrol, in particular, is primarily thought to be the source of several health benefits red wine has been shown to provide when consumed in proper moderation.
Red wines are known for helping to lower levels of bad cholesterol in the body for those who enjoy it in moderate consumption, especially if the wine is a variety made using high-fiber Tempranillo red grapes.
The antioxidant polyphenols found in red wines can help prevent blood clots by keeping blood vessels flexible throughout the body. This can provide moderate wine drinkers with some anti-aging benefits to help keep their cardiovascular system acting younger and healthier.
“Look at the vineyard. Before choosing a wine, dig a little deeper to learn about the vineyard that makes the wine. Vineyards located in cool, moist climates produce grapes with larger amounts of resveratrol than those in warm, dry climates.” Adelina Espat
As stated previously, red wine contains a range of powerful antioxidants, including resveratrol, which can help the body regulate blood sugar levels. However, the one single glass per day that many recommend is relatively low in resveratrol. If you’re looking for the specific health benefits resveratrol provides, you can consider a supplement.
The link is controversial and evidence has been presented both for and against this, but it is worth mentioning.
The antioxidants in red wine provide yet another potential health benefits people should know about; treating the symptoms of the common cold and flu. They help protect the body’s cells against the effects of free radicals, which play a significant role in developing colds and other diseases.
Research has indicated that another benefit of the antioxidant resveratrol in wines is that it helps keep the brain healthy and memory sharp by preventing the formation of the beta-amyloid protein, which is a crucial component in the buildup of plaque in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease.
Resveratrol also provides the added benefit of helping people manage their weight due to its role in creating piceatannol. This compound reduces the number of fat cells found within the body by fastening to insulin receptors of fat cells, blocking the pathways needed for immature fat cells to grow.
In one study cited by the National Institute of Health with over 5000 participants, it was found the group who consumed two to seven glasses of wine per week reported lower rates of depression even controlling for social and lifestyle factors like smoking, marriage etc. As you’d suspect, there are diminishing returns and heavy drinkers face an even higher risk of depression. Read more about the study here.
Increasingly, it’s coming to our attention how important the gut microbiome is for our overall health. A study in The Journal Gastroenterology suggests that the consumption of red wine may have a positive effect on the gut’s microbiome. Red wine isn’t the only fermented product that can aid in our gut health though. Other items to consider include kimchi, natto, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir.
For most people, enjoying a glass of red wine a day in proper moderation can be part of a healthy diet (A glass as defined by the studies we’ve mentioned is around 5 oz) . However, official guidelines provided by the U.S. don’t recommend that people start drinking or increase their drinking for any reason, even for the hope of acquiring wine’s various health benefits. Since so many of its benefits are related to its antioxidant contents, specifically resveratrol, eating grapes and taking specialized supplements are the healthier option for those who don’t drink already.
For those wondering how much red wine is safe to drink or is considered “proper moderation,” the answer is quite simple. Women of all ages should limit themselves to up to one glass of red wine per day, along with men over the age of 65. Men under the age of 65 can safely consume up to two drinks of red wine per day. A “drink” of wine is considered to be 5 ounces, which is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
It’s essential to note that the health benefits of red wine can quickly diminish with overdrinking. The key to acquiring the health benefits that come with drinking red wine is moderation. Excessive drinking can lead to several serious health problems that people should actively try to avoid, including weight gain, liver cirrhosis, and more.
Red wine may have numerous health benefits if you drink the recommended amount. The compounds which provide these benefits exist in small amounts per glass, but drinking large amounts should still be avoided. If you’re interested in the antioxidant benefits, it might be better to consider eating grapes, other antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables along with supplementation.