Red Wine: A Health-Optimizing Drink?

When you’re stressed, overwhelmed or feeling anxious, it’s tempting to plunk yourself down on the sofa and have a glass of wine to relax.  Or perhaps you’re inclined to have a glass of wine with dinner to unwind.

But is having a glass of wine helping your health?

If you’ve heard that red wine is one of the healthiest of all alcoholic beverages, it’s for good reason.

Thanks to the antioxidants found in the skins of grapes from which it’s made, red wine has been widely publicized as being “healthful.”  The kind of antioxidants found in red wine, such as resveratrol, have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

Inflammation and oxidation are considered to be the root causes of most disease, so consuming antioxidant-rich foods is a key component in disease prevention.

Moderate consumption of red wine has been linked to improved heart health, along with other health benefits, such as decreasing the risk of:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • diabetes
  • certain cancers
  • depression

Some of the buzz around red wine’s health benefits comes from its prominent role in the well-studied Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean diet includes lots of fruit, vegetables, fish, olive oil and red wine and is believed to contribute to a long lifespan and low incidences of heart disease and cancer among Mediterranean populations.

The health benefits of red wine are also thought to contribute to low rates of heart disease among the French, despite this population traditionally eating a diet high in saturated fat (think cheese, cream and buttery croissants!).

So how exactly does red wine improve heart health?

And does a glass of red wine a day really keep the doctor away?

Maybe.

Studies have linked regular consumption of red wine with the following positive outcomes:

  • increased HDL cholesterol (the good, protective kind)
  • lowered LDL cholesterol (the bad, inflammatory kind)
  • lowered triglycerides (fat or lipids found in the blood)
  • improved blood pressure
  • more stable blood sugar levels

High blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and undesirable cholesterol and triglyceride levels are all contributing factors in the development of more serious heart disease, like heart attacks and stroke.

So then, is red wine an essential part of a healthy diet?

The short answer is no.

If you aren’t a fan of wine or choose not to consume alcoholic beverages, there’s no reason to start drinking red wine for the sake of your health.

Plenty of other diet and lifestyle factors, like eating lots of fruits and vegetables, getting regular physical activity, not smoking and managing stress can provide the same health benefits.

If you enjoy drinking wine, you should choose red varieties over white for the added antioxidants and health benefits.  While white wine does contain some antioxidants from grapes, red wine contains much higher amounts.

Like any other alcoholic beverage, it’s also important to remember to limit wine consumption.

The health benefits of red wine only apply when it is enjoyed in moderation.  Surprise!

When consumed in excess, any alcoholic beverage can negatively impact your health, contributing to alcohol dependence, organ damage and increased risk of several cancers.

A good rule of thumb for alcohol intake is to limit consumption to one (1) drink per day for women and one to two (1-2) drinks per day for men.

The serving size for one standard glass of red wine is 4 oz.

Since the size of wine glasses can vary, use a liquid measuring cup to familiarize yourself with what a 4 oz. pour of wine looks like.  Then stick to that serving size!

Do you enjoy a glass of red wine to relax or to have with dinner?  Do you prefer red or white wine?  For the purpose of receiving added health benefits, would you pair a glass of red with a meal that calls for a white wine even if it’s considered to be breaking the rules?

Please comment below.  As always, we love to hear from you.

Categories: Alzheimer's Disease, Blog, Cancer, Depression, Diabetes, Drinks, Red Wine, and Stress.

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