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Is Red Wine Good for Health? Here's What You Should Know

Is Red Wine Good for Health? Here's What You Should Know

We all know that excessive alcohol consumption is harmful on many levels. But controlled consumption of certain alcoholic beverages, like red wine, may have some surprising health benefits. After all, wine has historically served medicinal purposes. But what does science say? Is red wine good for health?

A History of Wine’s Reported Health Benefits

The French had a big role to play in mainstreaming the potential health benefits of wine. In the late 1980s, doctors found it puzzling how the French had a relatively low incidence of coronary heart disease in spite of a diet rich in fatty foods.

The catchphrase “French Paradox” was coined to describe this situation. Experts tried to come up with various explanations for this. Some suggested that it was the habitual drinking of red wine that might have made the difference. This kickstarted a conversation that runs to this day: is red wine good for health?

Unpacking The Health Benefits of Red Wine

Antioxidants

Red wine contains antioxidants – substances that protect the cells from free radicals. The powerful antioxidants in red wine are called polyphenols.

A particular polyphenol known as resveratrol shows significant promise. This compound is found in the skin of grapes, but peanuts, blueberries, and cranberries also contain some of this helpful polyphenol. Research suggests that resveratrol may help:

Moderate red wine consumption may also:

  • Protect against cardiovascular disease
  • Help with oxidative stress
  • Promote gut health

Oxidative stress refers to an imbalance caused by the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to detoxify. The powerful polyphenols in red wine may contribute to lower concentrations of harmful microbial populations in your stool. Additionally, these polyphenols exert a prebiotic effect which encourages the development of good bacteria in the gut, promoting bowel movement.

Are All Kinds of Red Wine Good for You?

So from this point of view, the answer to the question is red wine good for health may suggest a resounding yes.

But the issue is more complicated than a simple yes or no, especially since not all red wine may be equal. A small-scale study shows that non-alcoholic red wine may be more beneficial than regular alcoholic types when it comes to reducing blood pressure. During the study, men who drank non-alcoholic red wine saw their systolic blood pressure decrease by an average of six points compared with a negligible reduction when they drank regular red wine and gin.

The participants’ nitric oxide levels also rose when they drank non-alcoholic red wine. This is welcome news since nitric oxide is a compound that allows blood vessel walls to expand and promotes good blood flow.

However, it’s important to note that the study was limited and small in scope. Further research is warranted to confirm the benefits and risks of wine drinking. Moreover, most studies on the positive benefits of polyphenol are based on animal models, so its full effects on humans remain to be seen and documented.

Red Wine Vs White Wine

The conversation around the health benefits of wine drinking tends to favor reds over whites. When it comes to cardiovascular disease, red wine is seen as more helpful. The reason is largely because red wine contains more resveratrol. Because it takes longer to ferment red wine with grape skins than white wine, reds contain more of this powerful polyphenol.

However, studies suggest that white wine may cause the same beneficial effects as red wine when they are supplemented by grape polyphenols.

Drink in Moderation

There is no clear answer to the question: is red wine good for health? Despite the apparent benefits of red wine, there is a need for more large-scale studies to reach a definitive conclusion about its long-term health benefits.

Since alcohol can be highly addictive and cause health problems down the line, it’s best to drink in moderation.

One glass of wine is defined as 5 ounces or 148 milliliters. Generally, men younger than 65 years old should have a maximum of two drinks a day, while women should have one drink a day.

Since men tend to weigh more than women and have greater amounts of an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol, their maximum allowable drink is higher. But once men breach the 65-year-old mark, they should tone down alcohol consumption to one drink a day.

If you want personalized advice, visit your doctor. They may recommend reducing alcohol intake if you have a history of liver disease or take certain medications.

Learn more about Nutrition Facts here.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Is red wine actually good for your heart? https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/is-red-wine-good-actually-for-your-heart-2018021913285. Accessed July 18, 2021

Red wine and resveratrol: Good for your heart? https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/red-wine/art-20048281. Accessed July 18, 2021

Non-alcoholic red wine may lower blood pressure. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/non-alcoholic-red-wine-may-lower-blood-pressure-201209125296 Accessed July 18, 2021

Wine: An Aspiring Agent in Promoting Longevity and Preventing Chronic Diseases. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6165230/ Accessed July 18, 2021

Red vs white wine. Wine, food and health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7173466/ Accessed July 18, 2021

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Written by Sandra Sendingan Updated Feb 10
Expertly reviewed by Chris Icamen