Wine has come to symbolize some of the finer things in life — it pairs nicely with good food and good friends. And when we enjoy those things, it’s not uncommon to start the celebrations off with a toast to everyone’s health. If you’re enjoying wine during that toast, it may be more accurate than you originally thought. Many of us have heard the common wisdom that a glass of wine can be good for your health, but how true is that? With the many different types of wine from Sancerre to Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Malbec, are the health benefits true for them all? Let’s dig into just how good wine can be for you and where those benefits start and end!
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Health Benefits of Wine
Perhaps because humans enjoy wine (and other alcoholic beverages) so much, it’s no surprise that the potential health benefits have been thoroughly researched, and that research hasn’t been fruitless. It has turned up promising results with a number of outlets proclaiming just how healthy wine is for you.
The most famous of these benefits deals with your heart. There’s a large body of evidence that points to wine’s ability to lower your risk of coronary heart disease. In fact, wine has been linked with improving numerous factors of heart health, like blood pressure and cholesterol. That same study also found lowered risk of heart attack and stroke. Others have noted wine’s ability to aid with blood flow and clotting while lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) and promoting good cholesterol (HDL).
Interestingly, moderate wine consumption may even improve longevity and disease prevention.
The benefits aren’t reputed to end with the heart, though. We’ve previously discussed how wine can help with healthy brain aging, protecting against Alzheimer’s disease and stress. There’s also evidence of anti-inflammatory benefits from wine, which can reduce oxidative stress and other negative health outcomes. More generally, wine has been linked with a positive influence on a wide range of health factors including gut, vision, and mental health. Also, other compounds found in wine are reputed to have “anti-oxidant, anti-cancerous, anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, anti-helminthic and anti-microbial activities.” Interestingly, moderate wine consumption may even improve longevity and disease prevention.
Does the Type of Wine Matter?
If you’re familiar with anything about wine, it’s likely that there are many different varieties. It doesn’t stop at just red and white wine. Each country has its own unique types of wines made from mixtures of grapes from different regions. So, when it comes to the health benefits of wine, is each type created equal? Unfortunately, no.
You may have noticed that the studies linked above almost exclusively look at red wine. This is due to the antioxidants called resveratrol and tannins, which are more abundant in red wine. This is because red wine is made with the grape skins, which is where the antioxidants are found. That’s not to say white wine is completely without health benefits, but it’s likely not as effective as red wine.
If you’re going for the purely healthiest wine, you’d likely want to stick with a dry red.
Another consideration when it comes to the healthiness of wines is the sugar content. Some types of wine have a higher sugar content than others, and this can vary from brand to brand and type to type. As we’ve noted in the past, sugar has its own health concerns, adding to the detriments that alcohol can play. So, if you’re going for the purely healthiest wine, you’d likely want to stick with a dry red.
Should You Start Drinking Wine?
These health benefits may entice you to start drinking wine or more of it. It’s important to note that drinking alcohol in excess is associated with a number of short- and long-term health risks, and most people underestimate how much they drink. Consider the health benefits of being sober as well before you decide to grab a glass.
It’s argued the demographic that prefers to drink wine also lives a healthier lifestyle.
While many accept that drinking wine likely has some health benefits, there are some who question just its true effectiveness. Of those that do, many point to some problems with the studies that could influence the outcome. It’s argued the demographic that prefers to drink wine also lives a healthier lifestyle. This is specifically noted in one study that looked at the increased longevity linked with wine consumption, noting that other factors like diet and lifestyle play a role in the outcomes.
One such phenomena, called the French Paradox, has been linked to a combination of healthy living to offset the high-fat diet of many in France, instead of just wine consumption. That said, wine likely plays a part, as even the one critical article we linked above from the BBC references the numerous studies that found health benefits associated with moderate wine intake.
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So, what can you gather from this evidence? There are benefits to drinking red wine, as well as other types of alcohol in general, but there are also benefits to not drinking at all. What this tells us is that, while drinking red wine can have health benefits for you, it should only be enjoyed in moderation (one standard drink per day if you’re female, one to two if you’re male). Also, if you currently don’t drink, keep that up. You’re likely to get as many benefits from sobriety as from drinking alcohol.
While you shouldn’t start drinking wine for the health benefits, if you already drink, it may be worth considering enjoying a healthy amount of red wine for your mind and heart! With that in mind, if you’re enjoying a nice glass of wine, please drink responsibly. Salute a tutti!