Health benefits of red wine
Are there any health benefits of red wine. The short answer is that there appears to be some benefits but additional studies are needed. In addition, the risks outweigh the benefits if too much wine is consumed.
Lets define what amount of alcohol may be beneficial.
The American Heart Association states “If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. This means an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. (A drink is one 12 oz. beer, 4 oz. of wine, 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits, or 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits.)”
It is difficult to say whether there is any definite health benefits of red wine as there are no quality studies. According to the American Heart Association, “No long-term randomized trials of alcohol administration exist.”
What are some of the possible health benefits of red wine?
Health benefits of red wine and heart disease
An article published in journal of Cardiovascular Diseases stated,
“Red wine contains antioxidative components like resveratrol, proanthocyanidine, quarcetin, etc. and these active components exert protective functions like free radical scavenging effects, decreasing the oxidative stress and reducing the inflammatory atherosclerotic lesion in both animals and humans, which is evident in this review. From these findings, it has been concluded that red wine as a diet supplement might be beneficial for cardiovascular risk factors.”
Other studies have suggested that light to moderate alcohol consumption appears to protect against development of chronic heart disease and the risk of heart related death in diabetic men and women.
It is unclear how alcohol reduces cardiovascular risk. Additional research is needed. Currently, the American Heart Association does not recommend drinking wine or any other form of alcohol to gain these potential benefits.”
Alcohol may prevent platelets in the blood from sticking together. That may reduce clot formation and reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. It is important to note that there are alternatives such as baby aspirin which can also reduce the risk of blood clotting.
Health benefits of red wine and diabetes
There appears to be a decreased risk of diabetes mellitus in people with moderate alcohol consumption.The mechanism by which insulin sensitivity is enhanced by alcohol is not entirely known. It is thought that resveratrol decreases liver production of blood sugar (glucose). An article in Nature suggested that, “Resveratrol improves insulin sensitivity and lowers hepatic glucose production (HGP) in rat models of obesity and diabetes, but the underlying mechanisms for these antidiabetic effects remain elusive.”
There appears to be an inverse relationship between levels of anti-inflammatory markers and mild to moderate alcohol intake.
Inflammation is thought to play a part in heart disease and metabolic syndromes such as prediabetes.
Health benefits of red wine and cholesterol levels
The American Heart Association states ,
“The best known effect of alcohol is a small increase in HDL cholesterol. However, there are alternatives to raise HDL. We know that regular physical activity is an effective way to raise HDL cholesterol. Niacin (vitamin B3) can also be prescribed to raise HDL.
The Mayo Clinic suggest that, “antioxidants may increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) and protect against cholesterol buildup.
High-fiber tempranillo red grapes which are used to make certain red wines, like Rioja may actually have a significant effect on cholesterol levels, according to a study from Spain.
Health benefits of red wine and memory
An article published in Nature suggested that mice who were given resveratrol had improved memory. In short, the article found new blood vessel and nerve formation, these changes were thought to be secondary to decreased inflammation.
Health benefits of red wine and the common cold
In one observational study people who drank red wine had a 40% lower risk of getting the common cold.
“Wine contains high levels of antioxidants called flavonoids. These are thought to work by mopping up excesses of harmful chemicals naturally produced by the body as well as making the blood less likely to clot and lowering high blood pressure. The study said some such flavonoids work specifically against nasal viruses.” Wine also lowers the body’s inflammation, it could be that people had a cold but did not notice it as much. More studies are needed to determine if drinking red wine reduces the risk of getting the common cold.
Health benefits of red wine and weight loss
Piceatannol is a metabolite of resveratrol which has been shown to block the pathways necessary for immature fat cells to mature and grow.
Health benefits of red wine and cancer treatments
An article in Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology suggests, “Resveratrol not only exhibits antioxidant, heart protection and anti-aging properties, but can also inhibit cancer cell growth and induce apoptosis (cell death).”. Other studies have shown that the risk of cancer is higher with alcohol consumption.
Health risks outweigh the health benefits of red wine when you drink too much of it
Health Risks of drinking alcohol
- Multiple studies have shown an association between excess alcohol intake and the development of hypertension and heart failure.
- The American Heart Association suggests that drinking more than 2 glasses increases risk of high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, breast cancer, suicide and accidents.
- The CDC recommends that women who are not using birth control should not drink as there are increased risks to the fetus when drinking during pregnancy.
- The new guidelines by the CDC recommend “Alcohol use during pregnancy, even within the first few weeks and before a woman knows she is pregnant, can cause lasting physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities that can last for a child’s lifetime. These disabilities are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). There is no known safe amount of alcohol – even beer or wine – that is safe for a woman to drink at any stage of pregnancy.”
Health benefits of red wine and cancer risk
Drinking just one glass of wine or other alcoholic drink a day increases breast cancer risk, finds a major new report by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).
A recent review which analyzed more than more than 100 prior studies examined the medical history of 12 million women, the report supports an increased risk of breast cancer with just one glass of red wine a day.
According to the American Institute of Cancer Research drinking too much alcohol has been linked to an increased risk of cancers of the:
- Mouth, Pharynx, Larynx
- Breast (both pre- and post-menopausal)
- Colorectum (in men)
- Liver cancer
Is there a difference between red wine and other types of alcohol?
The American Heart Association states, ” There is no direct comparison trials have been done to determine the specific effect of wine or other alcohol on the risk of developing heart disease or stroke.”
What is Resveratrol?
Resveratrol is part of a group of compounds called polyphenols. They’re thought to act like antioxidants which protect the body against damage. Resveratrol not only comes from the skin of grapes but also from other fruits such as blueberries and cranberries as well as some nuts such as peanuts.
Resveratrol is found in both white and red grapes but red wine requires longer fermentation and contact with the grapes skin which increases resveratrol levels. White wines are made from the grape pulp without much grape skin contact. therefore the concentration of resveratrol.
According to The Mayo Clinic, “Resveratrol might be a key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and prevents blood clots. Some research shows that resveratrol could be linked to a lower risk of inflammation and blood clotting, which can lead to heart disease. But other studies found no benefits from resveratrol in preventing heart disease.
Are there more health benefits of red wine compared to other types of alcohol?
“According to the Mayo Clinic,” There’s still no clear evidence that red wine is better than other forms of alcohol when it comes to possible heart-healthy benefits.
Chicken or veal with red wine sauce
6 veal or chicken cutlets
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup red wine
1 shallot, minced
1 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 cups thinly sliced mushrooms such as shiitake, cremini, or white button
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon sage
salt and pepper to taste
Flour cutlets and lightly brown in olive oil
Place cutlets on the side
Add wine, slice shallots, butter, sage, mushrooms and chicken broth
Simmer for 3-5 minutes.
Add cutlets, salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Summary – health benefits of red wine
The bottom line is that several studies suggest that red wines antioxidant resveratrol has health benefits but more high quality research is needed.
We know that even small amounts of alcohol increase your risk for certain cancers. However, moderate alcohol consumption may help protect against coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Moderate consumption means:
- no more than one drink per day for women
- no more than two drinks per day for men
That being said most associations such as the American Heart Association to not advocate drinking to lower your risk of heart disease. There are other healthier ways to lower your risk such as exercise and proper diet. The risks outweigh the health benefits of red wine.
Do you think there are any health benefits of red wine?